June 15, 2010

West's Story

Today, we're thrilled to host one of the best Bread for the City events of the year: our Client Achievement Ceremony. The Client Achievement Ceremony is an opportunity for us to recognize the great accomplishments and spirit of the people in our community.

West (pictured left) is one of our clients who will be recognized in the ceremony. He has difficulty expressing himself verbally, so in the past West has been frustrated at Client Achievement Ceremonies, at which there is so much he wants to say but can't. So this year, West and I sat down to transcribe his words onto paper; we will read his words aloud at the Ceremony later today.

With his permission, I'd like to give you a sneak preview:

I have been coming to BFC since 1997 for food and clothing. I have had a case manager here since 2002.

I have cerebral palsy and have difficulty speaking. It is frustrating not to be able to communicate what is on my mind. I have things that I want to say but I can’t. I can come to BFC and they listen to me and try to understand what I am saying. They are patient and let me try to let me express myself. If they don’t understand, I write it down. They help me communicate with other people about my needs so that I can get the stuff I need. When I go other places, they don’t understand me. It’s a nightmare. I go home and think. I have a lot on my mind.

When people were taking advantage of me in my apartment building, my case manager and the legal department helped me get a transfer and move to a safer building. I lived at my old building for 10 years. I have lived in my new building for almost 2 years. I like my new building. I feel safe. They have activities that are fun. Wendy and April at my building work together and now I go to a program during the day where I talk to other people and eat lunch.

I am an addict; I started smoking cocaine in 1979. I was homeless in 1980. I stopped using in 1989. I have been clean 21 years and still go to AA/NA meetings. I am very proud of that.

Bread for the City helps me manage my money. I don’t always like having someone manage my money, but I trust them. I recently started paying my own cable and phone bill on my own. I feel more independent doing that. But it’s good to know that they are making sure my rent and electric bills are paid so that I don’t make mistakes with my rent money. I pay my rent every month.

My mom died on Feb 7, 2006. I am still very sad and miss her a whole lot. BFC helped me get someone to talk to about how sad I was. I still feel sad and BFC listens to me. I thank god that I am alive.

I feel good when I come to BFC. People know my name. People say hello and smile. I feel important. I have been working with Wendy for 5 years. We laugh together.

On behalf of everyone at Bread for the City, congratulations to West on all of your hard work. We are so very proud of you.

Stay tuned for more stories and photos of our Client Achievement Ceremony.


Steve said...

I imagine hundreds of stories like West's that go untold.... Thank you all!

Steve said...

I imagine hundreds of stories like West's that go untold. Thank you.