Andrew didn’t realize how bad his life would become until he wound up living on the streets of Fort Lauderdale. Trained as a chef, Andrew bounced around from job to job and house to house for several years while battling a substance abuse issue. His luck ran out in November 2017 when he found himself out of work – and no place to stay. It took just one month of living on the streets for Andrew to reach a point of despair.
“I was pretty much at the point of suicide, of hopelessness,” Andrew said. “But I had a little bit of fight in me and I told myself ‘you have got to get help.’ That’s when I started reaching out to other people and I ended up here.”
Andrew mustered up the courage to seek out the TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness, who assessed him and eventually led him to the Broward Partnership. Upon arrival, Andrew knew that the shelter and services provided by the Partnership were what he needed to start to put his life back on track.
To manage his substance abuse issues, Andrew began faithfully attending on-campus STEP meetings. He also used the computer lab to update and print his resume. Armed with new-found confidence, Andrew then set out distributing his resumes in person to restaurants in the downtown area.
“Once I found this safe place my mind cleared up,” he said. “You can only feel sorry for yourself so long. It was time to really get active. If I could go out and chase the stuff I shouldn’t be doing, I can go out and chase a job.”
Within a week, potential employers started calling him back with offers. Andrew evaluated each one until he decided to accept employment as a cook at Morton’s Steakhouse.
“It was such a blessing to me because everything I needed I was able to get at the Partnership,” he said.“Everything I needed to get by was given to me here. This place has benefitted me in so many ways. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.”
Andrew said his next goal is to secure housing and is saving his weekly pay to put down a deposit.
“Working and saving money feels good because I know eventually (housing) is going to happen,” he said. “It may happen tomorrow, or a week from now or a month from now. I don’t know but I know that it is going to happen.”
Andrew says that his experience has made him appreciative of little things – such as free clothes from the clothing room, bus passes and a bike provided by the Workforce Development program. These gifts may seem small but Andrew said they, along with the support provided to him by staff, were absolutely critical in helping him rebuild his life.
“I was my own worst enemy. And when all of these people saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, I said ‘well if they see it I’ll just go with it.’ And I started to see results right away,” Andrew said. “I see a future now and I know no matter what I am going to be alright.
“This place has saved my life and I can honestly say that and mean it. Because if I would have stayed on the streets any longer I would have overdosed, killed myself or ended up in jail. Who knows what tomorrow holds. But I know it’s going to be good.”