Having a place to call home means the world to Danny, who first started working with BEDS more than three years ago. He recently moved into an apartment in Oak Lawn that features brand-new furniture and plenty of space to relax in. Danny loves being able to cook his own meals in the kitchen.
"It's more than an apartment," he said. "I love it."
When asked about how he came to find BEDS, Danny, a writer, put pen to paper. His story follows below:
Nowhere to go. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to sleep. A park bench perhaps in the park, or just the corner bus stop. Seems to be the real estate I've been looking for. The corner of Oak Park and Ogden perhaps. Near the closest liquor store in walking distance.
Finding myself alone and vulnerable, anything, anywhere to lay my head. Body needs rest. I have no shame considering I was just released from jail. A tap on the shoulder from someone and asked if I were ok? A friendly face, or was he the devil in disguise? Throwing caution into the wind, I really had no choice.
Waking up this day gave me the strength to do good. By my own, and with help from another, he told me about this place called BEDS Plus in La Grange. A thought had crossed my mind, a place to lay my head, a bed and not a park bench. He seemed sincere so I asked my ex to research for me. She not only researched it but picked me up and took me there. We went to get a bite to eat. She gave me a hug and said "it's gonna be OK, Dan."
So when we went there. We went to the front desk. With a welcoming smile, the receptionist smiled and said "what can we help you with today?" I let her know I was sleeping on the streets. She responded with, "we can't have that so have a seat and I'll find someone to speak with you as soon as possible." I sat and explained my situation, and was assured they will find a place to sleep that night. I was in a church basement, accompanied with others in similar situations. Along with a meal, dessert, coffee and television, we had to make our beds, blanket, pillow. Outlet for charging my phone. Morning arrived and it was time to figure out my day and go back to BEDS and get the schedule for the weeks upcoming. And perhaps come in for a bit, watch TV and have lunch.
This went on for over a year. Meeting new friends. Getting clothing as needed, pants, socks, coats when cold. Week after week, month after month. I felt comfortable, safe, rested.
The next summer, I decided to go live on Uncle Greg's farm. I got a call to watch the farm. I stayed a bit. It was quiet. There was a pond for fishing. Cutting down dangerous trees. Cutting grass, etc.
Eventually, I found my way back to Brookfield. Hanging out in the parks, enjoying the fall temperatures. Staying with friends, family, detox and back in the woods. I got a tent, lived way back through the trees, trails, off the grid. Feeling sorry for myself, a bit confused, with the rain on my face at times, sleeping among nature, with not much to do but listen to the critters yapping away. Almost at times seeming to relate?
Eventually, kind people had brought me camping gear, a tent, food, etc., money until one day I came back to the tent on a rainy and windy day. The high winds had brought down two oak trees, crushing my camp site. Scared and alone, I received a voice.
While sitting at White Eagle Woods, a friend named Rob [a former BEDS client who works on the Street Outreach team] rode up by me and asked what I was up to these days? We spoke for a while and he gave me some insight on having a place to rest my head. I was to speak to a gentleman that goes by the name of Mario Avila. He gave me his number and went on his way. The following day, I called Mario and he asked to meet with me. We scheduled an afternoon meet near the Forest Park District.
It was a great meet. He had informed me that I could be living in a hotel. I accepted. While living in the hotel, I received food as well.
Days, weeks, went by. However, I needed to find some sobriety, a safe house. So we discussed a sober program. So I went into detox, followed by Lutheran Social Service, where I was a resident for 28 days and followed up with an intensive outpatient program for two months. Meanwhile, again staying in a hotel provided by BEDS Plus, I received clothing once again, food, confidence, along with sobriety as I fulfilled my destiny.
I was heard by some.
One day as I was receiving my COVID administration, there was an associate from BEDS Plus that had informed me about permanent housing. A couple days had passed and I had received a phone call about the housing program with South Suburban PADS. An associate from South Suburban PADS had informed me that there was an apartment with my name on it near the hotel where I was staying at. We set up arrangements to meet and that would be just a few days later.
It was cozy, freshly remodeled, new carpet, vanity, kitchen and furnished by Darvin Furniture. I moved in on a Tuesday and slept on a bed for the first time, which was all appreciated. The first night at my apartment was special.
Gloating, taking it all in, a new couch, coffee table, new bed, end tables, dressers for my clothing, although I have plenty of closet space. And a kitchen of my very own lets me cook my own way with all the proper ingredients that I need to control my diabetes. It is crucial that I eat properly so my blood sugars are in control.
It has only been a couple weeks and I am now getting mail sent here, and that feels wonderful. And just having that key to the door gives me a sense of happiness. It's invigorating, it is a special feeling. I have accepted the Lord in my life and he has accepted me.
Thanks to BEDS, South Suburban PADS and the Lord and all who had helped me through these hard times. There is magic in the air and purpose of a good life in the future.