Introducing myself

Graphic by Bruna Costa

My name is Robert Vaughn. I am a 69-year-old Washingtonian. I am currently homeless and have been diagnosed with very severe, third-stage emphysema. I became homeless about 10 months ago. Fueled by drug addiction and alcoholism, I got so far behind in rent that I was scheduled for eviction. Two days before the eviction date I packed a duffel bag with two changes of clothes, some toiletries, a bible and an extra pair of shoes. I left that apartment and embarked on a journey that, as of this point, can only be described as amazing. A journey in which God has revealed himself to me and guided me in ways that I could have only imagined. A spiritual experience, the likes of which I never even dreamed.

I entered Central Union Mission 10 months ago and enrolled in its Restoration Transformation program, an all-inclusive recovery program for people struggling with homelessness and other issues that may have contributed to that situation. In my case, drugs and alcohol.

Since being here, I’ve had to be hospitalized on three separate occasions due to my illness. There is no cure for emphysema but with medication, therapy, and possible surgery, it can be managed to a point where I can enjoy a quality of life that allows me to perform daily tasks and enjoy the company of my adult children.

I’m currently in the process of divorce and I have four truly amazing children. They support me at every turn. Every day isn’t peaches and cream, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m in a good space. Each day brings new challenges but God always gives me just what I need to overcome and continue on this path through recovery. I’m not necessarily where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. Central Union Mission has proven to be the vessel that God is using to save my life. I haven’t needed anything since the day I walked through that door. When I first came here I was a bit concerned about whether my medical condition would allow me to be able to meet the requirements of the program. One day while sitting in the dining room having lunch, one of the chaplains came over, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Robert, don’t worry about a thing. We got you.” I finished my lunch, went back into the day room and quietly cried tears of gratitude for God’s grace through this blessed place.

Here all my daily needs are being addressed. Spiritually, mentally and physically, nothing is left unaddressed. I’ve been guided into a new personal relationship with God that has proven to be the cornerstone of my recovery. I’m provided healthy meals every day and a warm safe environment in which to heal. We’re assigned a primary counsel or spiritual advisor and social worker who leaves no stone unturned in continuing the process of restoration. I have an educational instructor who assists us with computer training, certification courses, resumes, interview techniques and much more. Through our substance abuse classes, I’ve learned so much about my addictions and how I can grow and become a whole and well-rounded individual again. This is a 16-month program so I am entering the phase of trying to obtain permanent housing. I have a monthly income, I’m disabled, I’m homeless and I’m a senior citizen. I don’t think I’ll have much difficulty in finding suitable permanent housing.

I’ve had previous periods of homelessness in the past but never really dealt with the underlying root causes of my homelessness. Today I have a new outlook. I’m developing a foundation that will withstand any trials that I may encounter. Through faith, hope, prayer and an abundance of God’s love, I’m well on my way.

Issues |Art

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.