The Veteran Who Came In from the Cold
“For more than 20 years I lived as a homeless man because I didn’t feel I could trust anyone. I had been lied to and led along by others who said that they wanted to help me. But I kept getting burned by them.”
Wayne Hall, a veteran of the US Army, recently “graduated” from the Father McKenna Center. He is now living in a home with several other veterans in the Langdon neighborhood of Northeast DC. It has been a difficult road for Wayne, so he has a real sense of achievement now that he has a place to call “Home.”
After returning from prison in the mid-90’s he realized that his family had moved on with their lives without him, and so he tried to make do on his own. But those who said they would help did not follow through and he became disillusioned. He briefly moved to North Carolina where he found work doing odd jobs for people, but he missed home, so he returned to DC in 1998.
For much of the time he has found temporary work that offered him some money, but he never had a place to call home. When he was paid he would often go to a motel and “sleep in a real bed,” but most of the time he lived in tent cities with other veterans in DC and northern Virginia. However, as he grew older it became harder and harder to live outdoors.
In June a panhandling friend at Union Station invited him to come to the Father McKenna Center for meal and to seek help from Cortez McDaniel. “For the first time someone who promised to help really followed through for me. Cortez did what he said he would do with and for me. I grew to trust him and he helped me go to Friendship Place to work with their housing program for veterans.” After a poor lead for an apartment fell through (the landlord’s staff raised the rent when they learned that Wayne is a veteran), Wayne was ready to give up again. “Cortez said that I was foolish if I gave up after one failed attempt, so I went back. This time Friendship Place put me in touch with a landlord who was himself a veteran, and rented out rooms in his home to other veterans.”
In early August Wayne moved into his new home. “I have a place that I share with others, and while we don’t have meals together we have a common kitchen and I really feel that this is where I need to be, for now! I owe it all to Cortez and his willingness to listen to me and to be honest with me along the journey.”