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2 min read

Lose the Label: Chronically Homeless

Troy is a likable guy with a quick smile. He learned and remembered my name the first time I met him, and ever since then, if I pass him – even if I’m halfway across the parking lot – he never fails to greet me. He has a gift for making people feel like they really matter.

Before Troy came to the Union Gospel Mission, he was one of the chronically homeless.* For 10 years, he was sleeping under the bridge or in jail or constantly in transition from one place to another. “I didn’t know what to do. I had no structure.” Often, drugs were a welcome escape from the fear and the uncertainty and the darkness.

“Life is a lot easier when you have the Lord."

Troy found structure at the UGM Men’s Shelter where there are meal times and bed times and shower times. There are assigned chores and the expectation that you will show up on time ready to work. Troy thrived under that structure and took advantage of the opportunities to do additional work – serving at the Best of City event at the Lincoln Center and helping to smoke barbecues for Thanksgiving at Longhorn Barbecue.

Along with the structure, Troy experienced a sense of community and found people who were willing to come alongside him. “Ron Molina (UGM Chaplain) taught me how to read a Bible. Dean Whisler (UGM Social Services Manager) taught be about Boundaries and how to say no. Joel (UGM Voc-Ed Manager) taught me how to do a resume.”

Troy.edited.jpgTroy was part of the Employment Ready Program, a program designed to help men overcome barriers to re-entering the work force, and is now employed full time at the UGM Thrift Store in production. His supervisor, Anna Havercroft, said this about Troy: “He is a very dedicated and hard worker. Troy is an exemplary employee who is always willing to help others. He is driven to achieve his life goals and I am proud that we can partner with UGM and Troy to help him succeed in life.”

When asked about the most important thing he learned at UGM, however, Troy was unequivocal: “Life is a lot easier when you have the Lord.

“I am grateful to be able to walk into a building called the Union Gospel Mission and have everyone that works here help people like me. It took me about 8 months of living here to understand that things come easier when you’re not on drugs and you have the Lord in you.”


*HUD defines chronic homelessness as “as an individual or family with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.”

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