Beginning a New Chapter of Hope
The Employment Program and Learning Center lifted Leroy’s spirits and confidence, giving him the personalized attention and support to strive towards new goals.
A person should always feel grateful and be thankful for what he or she receives or gets. I am always grateful, I am grateful for the all the people that are sticking with me, like Leigh. I am very grateful.”
Leigh is an Education Program Coordinator in the Employment Program and Learning Center (EPLC) at St. Anthony Foundation. Clients at the EPLC attend an orientation and are then assigned a staff advisor, who supports them in addressing their educational and vocational needs. In this encouraging and collaborative environment, guests develop the confidence and framework to pursue their goals. Leigh and Leroy have been meeting once a week for over a year to work on his reading skills. With Leigh, Leroy read his first book, cover to cover. He was so inspired that he went to the library to get a library card.
“When I got my library card I thought that was great, I was happy. We talked about it; I was very excited when I told her I got it. I would have never went in there myself. I never thought about me sitting down at a computer, or looking at a book or grabbing a table and sitting down to look at it.”
If Leroy served you a coffee at the café he works at part time, you might not realize that he hears voices sometimes. That he has served time in prison. That he is learning to read. Leroy has worked hard to reconnect to a community that offers help and hope. His humbly striving demeanor is occasionally further sweetened with a shy and complicit smile, as though he is not sure that you really “get” him, but he is willing to take the risk.
“I am very—I won’t say fortunate—but I’m blessed in many ways because after I did a couple years in prison I came back here. I said to myself no more mistakes, get focused, stay focused, keep my eyes with me, and just try to make it.”
“Since I’ve been here at St. Anthony I have seen nothing but love, appreciation, kindness, and people that really want to teach you or give you the opportunity. I walked on the streets here for about 15 days when I came here in this area. I tried to get on GA but they turned me down because I had just gotten here, and they said I had to be in the city for 15 days before they could help me, and that put me on the streets for 15 days.”
“I just walked in and became a part of it, it’s a beautiful thing. I got to know people, tried to do some volunteering in the Dining Room, went to the social workers and got help with my IDs and everything. I had my psychologist there and my therapist there. I’ve been to the clinic. That was very good; they care a lot. I’m on Medicare now, but I still go in there just to say hi and everything, because I became close to them.”
Leroy appreciates many of the programs at St. Anthony Foundation, but he especially appreciates the Employment Program and Learning Center. He has seen other guests of EPLC work on reading, math, getting their GED, and receiving computer training.
“I look forward to coming here every Tuesday to see Leigh; I am reading much better.”
He plans on going to the library again next week.
“My card is good for a year; I just got it renewed. I keep up with it.” he says with certainty.
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