BJ left his home in the Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa 29 years ago.
He came to the United States to avoid a civil war. In Tucson, he worked as a foreman for a landscaping company for 14 years until the company restructured and laid him off. He began receiving unemployment, but that quickly ran out. Then his green card expired, preventing him from finding a new job. On the street for the first time in his life, with his two backpacks, BJ was lost.
At first, BJ slept in one of our emergency floor beds because the shelter was full. As a working man, he wanted to be productive, so he volunteered to work as a helper on our donation trucks. Our staff drivers noted that his work ethic was extraordinary. As soon as a bed was available, he enrolled in our long-term work program that provides education and assistance to increase one’s employment opportunities. He started attending chapel services, and that’s when his life began to turn around.
“My life became influenced by Jesus, you know.”
His caseworker helped him renew his green card and get a new social security card. The Program helped him break free from drugs and alcohol. He was finally looking forward to finding a new job, getting back on his feet, and having his own place.
With insurance for the first time, he was able to go to the doctor. That’s when they discovered he had cancer. BJ received 45 days of radiation. He feels better now and says without being at the Center, and getting insurance, he never would have found out he had cancer and received treatment.
“Now I have a different focus and vision about life. There are people out there who need help, who want a place to stay but don’t have a place to stay. If it wasn’t for this place I don’t know what to do. When my job was gone, I was lost. Until I came here and I was found.”
“There are people out there that want to better their lives, but they don’t know where to start. God is going to bless this place, because this place changes lives. It does.”