“I have a place to cook in my house and that is hard for me to believe. I am very grateful for all the people that helped me to get a place. I am blessed by everyone – I want to name them all.”Mr. Henry
For the past 3 years and 6 months, Mr. Henry has called his truck a home. “I miss the sounds, when I lived in my truck, of the train and the firetrucks going by.” Letting go and transitioning from his truck to an apartment was difficult, but Mr.Henry knows the struggles life can put in front of us, the struggles we all deal with each day.
Mr. Henry grew up in Hyde Park, Illinois in the early 1960’s. His Apache name is Horse because he was swift- footed and loved to run. In the mid1980’s, Mr. Henry moved to the island of Oahu and worked as a janitor on the base of Pearl Harbor.
He loves to work with his hands, which is still evident to this day. When he left Hawaii and moved back to the mainland, he started a handyman business and became a licensed painter and sub-contractor for commercial work.
He had tools, a trailer, and a business. In 2005, Mr.Henry made his way to Denton to work and be around family. One fateful day, he lost it all. His trailer was stolen, along with his tools and finally his hope, “I lost my confidence. I did not have hope to build myself up.” He spent one full year on the streets. Sleeping in shelters, box trucks, and hard concrete floors. He was able to attain housing through Denton Affordable Housing Corporation and lived in a place for 4 years. Mr. Henry’s second stint of homelessness came after a conflict with a neighbor. An argument ensued which ended with him volunteering to move out. This is when he came to call his truck home, “My truck was a lifesaver to me, all those years, it kept me out of the heat, the cold and the rain.”
Michael Pirtle, Director of Vision Ministries, has known Mr. Henry through the highs and the lows. “I met Henry the winter of 2011 at Vision Ministries while he stayed at the inclement weather shelter called the Hanger at Denton Bible Church. There is more to Henry’s story than what we see – it is layered – the more you are around him, the more the story unfolds. Which is all the more reason why relationships are so important. At face value, some people are deemed a ‘lost cause’. But when you get to know them, you see their value and longing to be a part of the relationship, as well.Our relationship has turned from service provider-client, to now we help one another. Every organization needs a Henry, that certain client that turned to volunteer, that became a friend. The relationship that changes over time when trust is built and we truly value one another.”
Through hard work and building relationships with the different service providers in Denton, Mr. Henry was able to obtain permanent supportive housing. Giving Hope never gave up on Mr. Henry either. They knew that their program was more than a door for Mr. Henry, it was hope, hope of a life worth living. Tyheshia Scott, Executive Director of Giving Hope, knows too well the way persons experiencing homelessness has to navigate through it all. “Systems don’t always work, they don’t appear to be built for people, but are built for numbers. But the “by-name-list” or the”housing priority list” works and is working. In the time of people feeling like they don’t matter and people questioning the methods of ‘certain people’ , the housing priority list equalizes. Based upon the length of time, their self assessment that describes the barriers they face, determines who receives assistance that is available.”
“There is a way out if you ask for help and it is all in time. It cannot happen overnight or in days, it’s in God’s time-not my time or people’s time, God’s time.”Mr. Henry
Today, Mr. Henry, is employed part time at a local ministry and still gives his time for volunteering as a handyman, fixing anything broken, sweeping, mopping, doing yard work and whatever else he can to fill his days serving others. The transition from truck to home is still not easy for him. The first night, in his new place, was the hardest for Mr. Henry. “I couldn’t breathe, I was used to having fresh air, I hung in there and tried to go to sleep and it took may bean hour and a half, I just felt like I was suffocating.”
The continuum of care amongst service providers is important. We must have that relationship and trust so that we can approach individuals in our community experiencing homelessness. We know that each house rented and apartment filled through our programs offers hope and stability for our clients. We always want the best for those we serve. Deep down, we know housing is more than a door.
“Hard for me to let go of my truck even now that I have a comfortable apartment.”Mr. Henry