Dewayne Sr. has a new mission in life. The fifty-two year old soup kitchen guest is determined to raise his five month old son, Dewayne Jr, to be a healthy, strong man. “I want him to have a better chance than I did, to know I’ve got his back…that I’m here for him.” he says. Familiar with the soup kitchen from an earlier, more painful, time in his life, Dewayne Sr. is thankful it’s still here now that he’s a father.
“I came here in the mid 90’s, when I was homeless,” he recalls as one of our social services volunteers walks by and hands him a stack of baby clothes from the clothing pantry. “Back then, I was living in a Kenmore Refrigerator cardboard box!”
The proud dad doesn’t go into detail about what led him to that cardboard box, but he does remember very clearly how he got out of it.
“It was these people here who helped me figure things out. They gave me referrals for shelter, helped me with applications for housing… they got me to the right medical and dental care, and to the support I needed to stay on track.”
Sadly, because of the disabling effects of homelessness, Dewayne has not been able to secure the kind of success that he hopes his son will achieve one day. “I still try to count all my blessings,” he says. “I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for the people here who helped me way back then.”
But now, in addition to the life altering surprise of fatherhood in his early fifties, Dewayne Sr. has been left with the awesome responsibility of being the primary parent. “I’m just barely paying for formula and wipes and the diapers. But we still got a roof over our heads, and these meals help me get something in my stomach so I’m not hungry.”
While Dewayne Jr. tries – and spits back out – a few pieces of rice, Dewayne Sr. laughs, “This place is indeed a miracle. I’m forever grateful.”