The thing about people who struggle with poverty, hunger, mental health issues and addiction is they have to overcome circumstances that are frequently punishing. At the very least these challenges present formidable obstacles to creating a self-sustaining life.
Matt has been in and out of sobriety and homeless for much of his adult life. Recently, he made some changes that have helped point his life in a different direction. He spoke swiftly and with assurance. He easily opened up to tell his story, clearly proud of his recent sobriety. It was the first thing he mentioned.
It is plain to see, one of the contributing factors to Matt’s success is the Coffee Bunker, a new Partner Program of the Food Bank which will extend our reach to include veterans in need. “The Coffee Bunker really helped me. It is a strictly sober place and is a good influence."
The Coffee Bunker is a veterans’ peer center that offers opportunities that support service members and veterans towards successful reintegration with their families and communities. It is also a place to enjoy the company of others with shared experiences and challenges. Programs include job skills and placement counseling, as well as mental health and other social service referrals.
The Food Bank currently sends one of the Mobile Eatery food trucks to the Coffee Bunker to serve hot lunches on a regular basis. Additionally, a food pantry was established there for vets in need. “I could eat ramen noodles all the time, but I love the lunches from the Food Bank’s Mobile Eatery. I love coming here when it’s lunch day.”
Matt is currently residing at John 3:16. “They’ve really been helping me. I do hope that once I get a few paychecks from my new job, that I will be able to get my own apartment.”
Matt mentioned his gratitude for the many people who have assisted him. “All of these people who didn’t know me were helping me."
Matt first made contact with John Dessauer at the Day Center for the Homeless who connected him with the Coffee Bunker as well as Amie Farinella and Debra Young Allen with the BRRX4VTS (a housing program for veterans run by the Community Service Council) program. While at the Coffee Bunker, Matt met Sherri Stone from Workforce Oklahoma who helped him secure a job doing something he loves, landscaping.
All of these good people and agencies worked together to provide assistance to Matt. However, they couldn’t have changed Matt’s course without his own conviction to strive in a new direction. Tulsa’s social service community helped to remove obstacles and open doors for Matt.
“I really have a positive outlook. I’m getting out of the relationships that have held me back, and now, with the Coffee Bunker, I have a positive place to go. It feels good. It’s going to be okay.”