“When you’re a kid, you never say, “I’m going to become homeless. Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to live on the streets!” What kind of kid says that? Things in your life happen that’s out of your control, and you end up there. Nobody chooses to be there. And there are so many kids on the streets these days, they’re so young. And they may be on drugs, but WHY are they on drugs? You start because you’re homeless and you have to numb yourself from the reality that you might die out here. To wake up knowing you have a family that doesn’t care about you, to have that kind of pain, you try to become numb from the inside. And you can’t get out of drugs or drinking overnight, it’s a process. A few kind words aren’t going to make everything okay, not when you have to hide your bed in the bushes every morning, so someone doesn’t take it away from you. But I really thank God for the VMC. They actually work with the homeless, so they can have a better life. Have something to look forward to. Something to achieve. This program here is the best thing in Knoxville, and I’m not just saying that. When I first got my apartment, I showered 4 times a day. I can go to the grocery store and buy real food, AND I’ve got a stove to cook it on. It actually took me a while to get used to the oven because I was so used to cooking stuff on an open flame, and I burnt everything. But I am so grateful. It’s just, you feel alive. You feel like you’re really living. On the streets you’re just surviving, but now I have a life again. I’ll be 53 years old in July and I can say that this is the best year I’ve ever had. But I will never forget where I came from.”

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