Guy (59) was born and raised in Wilmer, MN with three brothers and a sister. When his parents divorced the children moved back and forth between the two. At 15, Guy started drinking and soon became addicted to alcohol. After high school he worked construction for 5-6 years. Then, “a friend got me into the Boilermakers Union in PA and I worked all over the west coast.”
Guy was married for nineteen years until his marriage ended in divorce ten years ago. They have a daughter, now thirty-two.
When his union job ended, a friend told him about a job in Virginia and he came here to work at (Steel America) Colonna Shipyard where he stayed for ten years. “The job ended when I had my nervous breakdown. The stress got to me. It was either go back to drinking or do drugs, and I didn’t want to start drinking again. I couldn’t find a way out, so I went into myself. I stopped going to work and the money ran out. I was very depressed.” Four years ago he was diagnosed with depression and put on medication. “I took the medicine for a week, but I didn’t like the way it made me feel so I stopped taking it.”
When he lost his apartment, Guy had a friend he could stay with, so he was never on the streets. Two months ago, his friend brought him to the Mission. “When I first came here I thought, ‘WOW!’ How did I let myself get so far down? I had to really start over again with my life. I found out I am better off than most of the people here. At least I had friends that cared. Mr. Evans (Case Manager) kicked me in the rear end and made me grow up again. Now, I’ve been in the Damascus Program for two weeks working in the kitchen, which I enjoy. I get to enjoy people again and believe in them.”
When asked about his relationship with God, he says, “I went to Catholic School until the 7th grade. I enjoyed it, but after my parents separated, I stopped going because we couldn’t afford it. Then I went to public school and church was an option. If I wanted to go, I would have to find my own way there, so I didn’t. Today my relationship with God is great. I’ve been clean and sober for five years and I have found out a lot of things I should have paid attention to in Catholic School. The staff here is teaching me to think before I speak, to treat people with respect.”
As to his future, “I want to get a place of my own and a full time job. I don’t want to get back in construction. I really enjoy working in the kitchen. I’ve become the gopher there. They let me think for myself and not just do what other people tell me to do. If it wasn’t for the Mission I’d be in real bad shape, walking the road, pan handling. I’m grateful to be here. The staff is great. They find time to talk to you. I’ve watched them bend over backwards to help people. I’ve watched them take verbal abuse and bite their tongues. There are good people here.
When asked about his relationship with his daughter he says, “My daughter and I stopped talking. I went my way and she went hers, but we’re sending text messages every month now. She used to be my shadow. She was a tomboy and liked to go fishing with me. I hope to get that back again.” Today, Guy is serving on the staff of the Union Mission along with others who have come through our programs and now wish to give back what they were given.
Pamela was born and raised in Norfolk by both parents, one of six children. She graduated from high school and went to college earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs. “I worked at Thalhimers, Sun Trust Bank, SEACEP, ODU, and Norfolk State University.” She got married in 1979, then …
Wesley was raised in Virginia Beach with two half-brothers. He graduated from Green Run High School and went to college for a bit. “I partied too hard and dropped out.” He didn’t do drugs in high school or college; not until later. He tried to go to community college for a while, but mainly he …
Michele was born and raised in the Cavalier Manor section of Portsmouth by both parents. She has two sisters and a brother. Her father died when they were teenagers and her mother died in 2008 after a long illness. She graduated from Manor High School and attended Norfolk State University for four years. She didn’t …