James Hale had it all – or so he thought.
He and his wife shared a home in the outskirts of Fort Worth, raised two children and enjoyed four grandchildren.
But one day Hale found himself in unfamiliar territory.
After 20 years with his wife, they separated in 2006, and James lost his home and his job. Instead of turning to family and friends, Hale turned to drugs and drinking. With little money and even less motivation, Hale started his life on the streets.
He was 57 years old.
“I just got sidetracked,” he said. “I started having problems with drugs. One thing led to another. I was lost. Just lost.”
Staying in multiple homeless shelters and motels, Hale was soon out of money and trying to manage his escalating drug habit. His toils led him to a local support group where he received help. It was there he learned about the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
“I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of my life,” Hale said.
Hale started staying at the Shelter in April 2006. At the Shelter, he entered into a work therapy program. He continued with his support group and was able to stay sober and kick his drug habits.
Now, after two years, Hale is the head custodian at the Shelter, a paid, full-time position, and has his own apartment in west Fort Worth.
He attributes his success to the Shelter and the programs it offers, he said.
“I got here and worked my way up cleaning the buildings,” he said. “Things started looking up. I got an apartment, got promoted, and I had the initiative and was motivated to stay clean.”
Like many clients of the Presbyterian Night Shelter, Hale was only homeless for a short amount of time and is now a fully functioning member of society. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the majority of homeless people in America are not permanently homeless and like Hale, only experience temporary homelessness.
Hale is so grateful to the community that supported him that he is returning the kindness, donating his time on the weekends to Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to the elderly an disabled.
“When I turned my life around, I wanted to start helping people less fortunate than me,” he said. “It makes me feel good. When I was in the Shelter, I would see the volunteers there and that encouraged me to become a volunteer.”
Even though the obstacles he has faced have been hard, Hale said being homeless and starting a new life has made him stronger.
Hale, who feels accomplished at what he has done, said he has a few more goals he’d like to achieve, including buying a house.
“I’m at the age now where there’s not a whole lot you need. I’m pretty satisfied, but I have grandkids – one who’s about to go to college – and it’d be nice if they could come and stay with their grandfather.”