Ms. Zenith Harper grew up in the Midwest, but fell in love with the energy and diversity of New York City when she moved here in 2012. "There's never a dull moment," she said, "I'm always learning so much." When neighbors in her Bronx apartment building started receiving eviction notices from their landlord, Ms. Harper, a U.S. Army veteran who spent time homeless during her early days in New York, sought help.
William D'Emilio, a Vietnam-era veteran, is full of stories, ideas, and optimism. He is inspired by Chinese philosophy, plays the guitar and the spoons, and has ambitions to become a movie-maker and children's book publisher. "The road to self-improvement never ends," he says. Daniel Ward, an Iraq veteran and RiseBoro case manager, met William while performing outreach in Staten Island, and encouraged him to reach out for help.
Wanda Valle is a single mother raising two teenage girls. After losing her Mother this year, she found herself searching for ways to heal. "When my mother passed away that hit me really hard. My mother was more than my friend, she inspired me. I miss cooking with her, arguing with her. I miss all that. I got into a deep depression after I lost her, because we were very close.
Getting caught up in what he calls a criminal lifestyle from a young age, Mr. Canty was in and out of the prison system for most of his adult life. While in prison, Mr. Canty said one day he had an epiphany: "I looked in the mirror, and I didn't like what I saw." He took the mirror down and began to make changes, getting involved in a number of available programs and enrolling in college courses. After six months he put the mirror back on the wall and says he finally liked what he saw.
Born in Puerto Rico, Alexander has been a proud New Yorker for many years. He met his wife here, and the pair have two young children. In 2008, the family spent more than a year in the shelter system. When they moved into their own apartment in Brooklyn, they were ecstatic. However, there were complications with the rental assistance program that had provided support while Alexander looked for work, and the family was soon behind in rent.
A phone call to 311 connected Steve with RiseBoro's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. "I was about to lose my apartment, I had to act fast," he says. He met with a case manager who guided him through housing court and helped him formulate a plan to avoid eviction. "[RiseBoro] was very informative about letting me know what I had to do so I wouldn't lose my apartment," Steve says.
Roshine came to RBSCC because she was discouraged after a failed search for employment. She had even moved to Florida to improve her situation. "I wanted to see if I could get a better life there, but I noticed that is was very hard to get a job." Back in Brooklyn, Roshine found information about RBSCC's Career Pathways program online. She eagerly enrolled. Her first step was the Career Development workshop, where she learned how to write a powerful cover letter and resume and give an effective interview.
Mr. Raul Clavijo joined the U.S. Marines at 17, where he finished his high school degree and completed tours in Japan, Korea, Philippines and China over the course of four years. When he returned to the U.S., he served in the National Guard for two years. Trying to get on his feet, Mr. Clavijo was coping with PTSD after his service. "It's tough. You don't want to show that you're struggling, so you try and hide it."
Marilyn Reaves served in the U.S. Army for six years where she learned a great deal about life and perseverance. She had lived in New York on and off for several years, but moved here officially in 2008 to live with her aunt. After her attempt at opening a recycling business was unsuccessful, Marilyn fell behind in rent. She was evicted from the apartment she had lived in since 2011, found herself in housing court and spent several weeks in shelter. After unsuccessful attempts with other agencies, Marilyn found out about HomeBase through a printed advertisement.
Owen and his son Ralquan were once homeless. When they received an eviction notice last fall, the pair dreaded a return to the nightmarish situation they'd faced while in the shelter system. "I called the right place at the right time," Owen says, of connecting with RBSCC. "The first time I met with [my case manager], it was a gift that awaited me. She was willing to guide me through the process. She treated me like family."
Lifelong New Yorker Harold Tandjung is a veteran of the Marine Corps, a father of two, and an aspiring toy designer. Recently, a split from his spouse left Harold in need of a new place to live. He found an ideal apartment in Brooklyn, just minutes from the university where he studies to become an engineer. Unfortunately, Harold struggled to cover all of the costly move-in fees, and time was running short.