From darkness comes light: A COVID story

Steven had been homeless for three and a half years. During that time, he was a guest at St. John’s, where he says he was surrounded by helpful, Christian people who helped him get back on his feet. During the COVID lockdown in April, Steven was able to get a home through our community partners, NEWCAP. Things were going well for him until he found out that his position doing housekeeping with the Packers had been eliminated. He would not be going back.

Steven felt the impact of the COVID pandemic not only through job loss but also through social isolation. While Steven’s family lives outside the area, the people he connected to at St. John’s and at his church, Green Bay First, were suddenly not able to interact. His recovery support group also stopped meeting. COVID was a lockdown that separated Steven from all of his support systems in Green Bay. Steven became both isolated and depressed. One by one, he stopped cleaning, cooking and eating right, which led to him gaining weight. He also had no transportation to go anywhere.

Steven was feeling the weight of the pandemic, and it was leading him to thoughts of suicide.

One evening, as Steven recalls, he found himself sitting with all his prescriptions in his hand ready to overdose. He felt hopeless. As he was sitting there, he received an unexpected message from his daughter in Texas. She said how much she missed him and loved him. That’s when he put the bottles away.

Pastor Matt’s messages at Green Bay First also helped him through. Green Bay First helped to support Steven and other congregation members with meals and clothing that would come on “The Jesus Bus.” The lifelines Steven thought he’d lost to COVID where starting to come back. He began taking his medications, vitamins and doing regular bible readings. Now, his place is clean, he’s eating right, dieting and is already down 20 pounds. He’s also in a relationship that’s going well. All these things make him want to wake up; he has a new focus and desire to be alive.

Steven pictured signing his hiring paperwork for St. John’s.

Steven says that he took a spiritual strengths survey at his church, and his top strength was helping people. And that’s just what he is now setting out to do. Steven has a new job that he is starting this week as a Guest Support Staff at St. John’s. He says he wants to give back to the community, “you guys helped me, and I want to help others.”

Steven recalls how people would view him as a bum when he was experiencing homelessness. Now, he says that he wants people to see him as helpful and someone who is giving back to others.

Steven is looking forward to the future now. And he adds, as he’s wearing his packers hat and sweatshirt, “I’m also excited for football season!”

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