Guy (61) was raised in a Christian home with a sister and a brother. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade. “I had dyslexia and A.D.D.” 15 years ago he lost his mother and a year later his brother died. It still hurts him today. “My brother had a broken esophagus and while he was in surgery went into cardiac arrest.”

Guy began working in the upholstery business when he was twelve. He had five uncles who were upholsterers. “They taught me everything I knew.” One of his uncles opened his own shop and he went to work for him. When he was 21, Guy opened his first shop out of an OK Storage shed. “I started my business out of there. I went to construction sites to get left over wood to make tables and benches. I did everything by hand then. I didn’t even have a sewing machine.”

Guy lived with his family but often spent the night in his shed after working 12-18 hour days. “There was a house down the street that they were going to tear down, so we got it (I had a partner by this time). He got married and left for two weeks, so I remodeled the house while he was gone. “He was the brains and I did the physical work.”

To keep his business afloat, Guy worked at American Interiors in the day time and worked doing upholstery at night. He did that for two or three years. Then they got an eviction notice because the city wanted to tear down the house, so the owner of Decorum Furniture helped them get a 3,000 sq.ft. building on 21st Street. Five years later they moved to a 33,000 sq.ft. building on Llewellyn Avenue opening ‘Guy’s Upholstery & Interiors, Inc.’ “It was a great building and we worked there for 17 years.”

In 2000, he sold Guy’s Upholstery and started renting booths in other shops to do his work. Four years ago, his partner sold the business to Decorum. “I had already given up everything. His family had the money. I just had my hands.”

For four more years Guy had a business called “My Upholstery.” Then life took a difficult turn. He developed a hernia and a mass that wrapped around his kidney. Then he had to have all sixteen of his top teeth pulled. “I had a lot of health problems.” In 2015 he had a stroke and he woke up one day, totally blind. “I was at work one day and in the ER the next. They put a needle in my neck and found out I had a major infection in my body. I almost died but made it through that.” In 2017, he lost two of his cousins and last year he lost his dad. “That really hurt but, I thank the Lord he didn’t suffer.”

Life continued on a downward spiral for Guy. He had never applied for Social Security because, “I was hard headed and stubborn. I had no income except my hands.” For years, he lived at John Knox Towers and loved it because he had a beautiful view and although he didn’t read very well, he loved to read and owned almost 2,000 books. Every Mother’s Day he would make a big Mother’s Day card for all the mothers in the building and got flowers for everyone. “They didn’t know who did it at first, but someone gave it away.” He also threw parties for people every chance he got. Last September he lost his apartment and with nowhere else to go, he turned to The Union Mission.

“I came with one suitcase. It broke my heart to leave everything. I was never homeless before. It was rough at times, but I would get by. When I came here, I never thought I’d be homeless. The last ten months have been a long, hard journey. I lost all hope, and the will to live. I felt like I was going to die in here. I always lived by myself and now I was surrounded by people, but I never lost faith in God.” His Case Manager referred him to the Damascus Destination Program for the “more seasoned men” at the Mission. He also volunteered sorting clothing donations. “I had to take a leave of absence for about six weeks to get medication I needed, and now I’m taking it and things are better. I think it’s all God.”

“Around my birthday on July 15th I started coming back to myself. I started talking to people, praying, singing, and reading verses at Chapel. Some of the guys said, ‘But I thought you couldn’t read!’ I told myself I couldn’t, but God took control, little by little. Now I think, this is the most beautiful time in my life. Every day I wake up and I thank God for this place. I have a roof over my head, enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, medication, and a place to work. I pray all day long now. I met a guy here who just came out of prison. I avoided him at first, but now I’m encouraging him. If you want to stop and listen, God will talk to you. I gave up on myself but never want to do that again.”

“The Damascus Program is helping me get closer to God. I’m no longer depressed. I used to go on cruises all the time and loved it. Now I’ve been talking to ten guys who would like to go with me. Maybe it’s in my future. I would like to do something for everyone here. Maybe just a party with some food. I’m getting a stipend now and I buy donuts for the Production staff. I’m grateful for everything they feed us here, every meal. All my needs are being met. I am blessed. I got Jesus and that’s all I need.”

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