Richard Cassidy, 61, had just been released from prison and was dealing with homelessness when he found out about VOA’s Village on Sage Street. With the help of management there, he was able to secure an affordable place to live while holding down his job as a machine operator.
“I don’t know if I would have been able to keep the job that I had gotten while I was living on the streets had it not been for getting a place to stay,” Cassidy says. “At that point, I wasn’t making a lot of money.”
Cassidy says he was so desperate, he had almost gotten to the point of re-offending just to go back to prison, because he knew at least there he would have a bed and food.
Luckily, Cassidy was welcomed in at VOA and found a second chance.
“They not only provided me a roof over my head, but they provided me with resources that could help me to better myself, they helped me get enough food to eat, they showed me how to get into medical care,” he says. “They offer different classes over there… how to save your money, how to budget your money, things like that.”
The Village turned out to be exactly the leg up he needed to get his feet back under him. While there, he was able to buy and completely pay off a brand new truck. Cassidy was also able to rebuild his credit and afford the deposit for a new apartment that he shares with a roommate. He credits VOA, and the resources they provide, with his success.
“So my life since Sage Street and up till now has been just trying to better myself. And without Sage Street, I don’t know that I could have done that,” he says.
Cassidy realized he wanted to change his life for the better while in prison. “My life prior to prison, I was kind of a loner. I didn’t care about people. I didn’t care about even myself,” he says. “But prison kind of gave me a wake-up call. And then when I got out, it was: what do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go back to the same old same old and just survive?”
Ultimately, Cassidy decided surviving wasn’t enough. He resolved to make things better for himself and take advantage of the resources available to him, something he encourages any person struggling to do the same.
Many, he argues, can find the structured living at The Village or even the shelter at Fourth Street restrictive or stifling. But he encourages them to “lose their self-pride.” “Sometimes you just got to change, And say, you know what? If I gotta do what they want me to do for a few months to get back on my feet, I’m going to do that,” he says. “The rules from the shelter programs or even like the Village of Sage Street, they’re not so tough to the person can’t just follow them. You just have to discipline yourself to do that.”
For Cassidy, that discipline he learned at VOA has brought him a whole new life.