Growing up, Robert was as far from a city dweller as you can get. He spent his childhood in Pacific, Missouri, and moved on to Kansas for high school where he spent his time working on farms and helping around the house. After graduating with his diploma, he moved to Nebraska and began attending college to achieve his Associates Degree, while simultaneously working on getting a Technical Degree from a local trade school.
That’s when he was injured.
“I think that trying to get both degrees while also sustaining this brain injury was just too much,” Robert says.
Robert was severely injured in an accident while working on one of the farms in Nebraska. The trauma forced him to drop out of school and seek support. He ended up moving back to Missouri, where he couch surfed with friends and family until his boss at a local Domino’s offered to let him stay in their spare bedroom.
“I like to call them my “fake family” because they treated me like I was one of their own,” Robert mentions. “I had somewhere to stay while I saved money and figured stuff out.”
But one day, Robert came home from work to find all his belongings out on the street. The family had been evicted without his knowledge. He had no friends to stay with long term, and his step-dad told him he was unable to help him. Unsure of what to do, and still learning to cope with his traumatic brain injury, Robert decided that his only option left was to take his life.
Before he had the opportunity, he called his boss and announced his plan. His boss went and picked Robert up and drove him to St. Louis’ BJC to be treated and evaluated. While there, a caseworker was assigned to him, who arranged a reserved bed at our Soulard Shelter.
“It was quite the shock,” Robert laughs, mentioning he’d never thought he’d be living in the city before.
Robert worked hard while in the shelter. Even when he was temporarily without a phone, Robert walked around to businesses in Soulard and knocked on doors to ask if they were hiring. In the midst of his job search, he donated plasma to help begin his savings. He eventually secured a job with Bridge Bread, a social enterprise designed to provide job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, and began to earn a steady income.
“Robert is a truly kind-hearted person,” states PPCS Shelter Director Don Shipp. “He always went above and beyond to help others who were staying at the shelter. Because Robert has computer skills, he would help apply for jobs online for those who didn’t know how to work the internet or type. He also once accompanied a shelter resident to the hospital for surgery to help ease his nerves.”
After a three month stay at our Soulard Shelter, Robert was asked to take a ride with his caseworker. Rather than drive him back to the shelter, like Robert expected, he was instead dropped off at an apartment complex. His caseworker had been able to secure him a spot in a supportive housing complex.
“I didn’t think it was real at first,” Robert explains. “I thought they had made a mistake and someone was going to come and tell me to leave.”
Robert loves his new apartment and is happy at his job. With a supportive boss at Bridge Bread, the right medication, and a roof over his head, Robert has been able to finally relax and begin tackling his challenges. He says that first he is going to prioritize his savings by paying rent and legal fees.
And then? He wants to start furnishing his new apartment.