Success Story – Meet Kenneth, Graduate of Open Door

kenneth-transformationA drastic haircut or buying a Porsche often constitutes a midlife crisis for some.   But for others, their actions, and the subsequent consequences, are chaotic and catastrophic.

Kenneth was married for 18 years and spent almost as long working for a Fortune 500 company in Fresno.  He led a normal, everyday life.  Then he and his wife decided to divorce…

Kenneth moved to Los Angeles, where he had lived as a boy, to get a fresh start.  The temptations of the “big city” and being single for the first time since graduating from college, however, proved debilitating for Kenneth.  He moved in with his sister and got a job, but soon after arriving in LA, a fateful night changed the 45-year old’s life forever…

“Having fun turned into terror,” says Kenneth, who tried cocaine for the first time at a dance club.   “It seemed fun and new,” he remembers, “but I didn’t know how addictive it was.”  The very next day he went to San Julian, one of the most notorious streets in Skid Row, looking for his next score.

It wasn’t long, just over a year in fact, before Kenneth totally lost all sense of normalcy.  He stayed at his sister’s sometimes, but more often, he was here and there, at hotels in Skid Row, and even in his car.

He lost his job because he stopped showing up, he became addicted and out of control.  “I had always worked,” says Kenneth, “so what I had to do to get drugs was a real low point.” 
Kenneth went from working at a fortune 500 company, to using and selling drugs, then committing additional crimes to support his habit.  He was ultimately arrested for receiving stolen property, and spent 16 months in prison.  Kenneth heard from fellow inmates about the Weingart Center Association’s Open Door program, designed specifically for people on parole.  When released he headed back to Skid Row, but this time, it was to turn his life around.   “I knew I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore,” remembers Kenneth.

Being in the Open Door program at the Weingart Center provided Kenneth with housing as well as the structured environment he needed to get himself together.   Open Door also helped him get his credit back, and reclaim his work ethics.   Meeting with his case manager and attending classes every day helped to keep him focused.

Kenneth spent six months in Open Door.  Now he’s living in his own apartment and working for a company that raises funds for various environmental and political non-profit organizations.  Kenneth even got the chance to speak with presidential candidate Barack Obama on a conference call.  “I love my job. I really feel like I’m making a difference,” states Kenneth.

Kenneth is back to his old self, albeit wiser.  “The whole ordeal I went through was because of drugs; I’m never doing that again,” claims Kenneth.

The Weingart Center for the Homeless provides comprehensive human services to homeless men, women, veterans, parolees, families, HIV+ and other at-risk individuals, giving them the skills, resources, and hope they need to lead productive lives off the streets. Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, the Weingart Center for the Homeless is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that breaks the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

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