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Compassion and reconciliation for a broken family

December 3, 2015
Catholic Charities

This is the first of three Advent stories focusing on clients served by Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The theme of this series is “A Season of Mercy,” following in the footsteps of Pope Francis’ recent declaration of a Year of Mercy.

My name is Maurice. I am a 41-year-old man whose life has not gone as planned. Years ago I had a good job at the Chevron oil refinery working as a safety watchman and I enjoyed living in the Bay Area with my wife and three kids. Even with these blessings, I made some bad decisions which led to the loss of my marriage, home, job, and health. As a result, I became homeless and later received unexpected and devastating news: I had contracted AIDS. For the first two years after my diagnosis I had no medication so I began using other drugs to cope with my situation. My world became so small as I moved around to various homeless shelters in San Francisco, trying to get some sleep and a decent meal. My income dwindled to $75 a month, and I felt trapped and hopeless.

This past year I received a hope-filled birthday gift – a call that there was a room available for me at Catholic Charities Leland House. Leland House is a comprehensive medical residence for homeless individuals living with disabling HIV/AIDS. The staff at Leland House believes that if they provide homeless individuals diagnosed with disabling HIV/AIDS with housing and medical services, then people like me will be medically and residentially stable.

Since living at Leland House, I already feel an improvement to my physical health. The staff are a true blessing. They make sure I take my medication and help me schedule my monthly doctor appointments. Plus, I get three healthy meals a day which have allowed me to focus on moving forward with other areas of my life.

Equally important is how much my spirits have improved. For the first time in two years, I was able to visit with my kids and now I am able to save a little bit each month to do the kinds of fun things all dads want to do with their kids – hang out at Pier 39, eat at the Hard Rock café and take a ride on a RocketBoat. I also keep busy through the activities planned for all of the residents at Leland House. The loneliness of homelessness is gone and I now feel like I’m part of a genuine community. No matter religion, creed or color, we all get together.

I am so grateful and elated that I now have a community of staff, peers and relative comfort. My sleep is blissful now and having a room and privacy is a gift. I feel compelled to let everyone at Catholic Charities know just how much having the opportunity to live here really means to me.

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