Kevin found himself homeless in late 2019. His problem with alcoholism resulted in his divorce, isolation from his adult children and his homelessness. During this time of despair, he spent several weeks wandering the streets, occasionally finding refuge at the Milford Library.
Once he found his sobriety, Kevin was then referred to the Beth-El Center and spent 3-4 weeks staying at the Center's No Freeze Shelter while working at a Mexican restaurant as a dishwasher. Even though the shelter closes at 10 p.m., Kevin said the staff always let him in later after he finished work and made sure he was safe. He was able to use the shelter's showers and received clothes and toiletries while staying there.
"Once I got involved in this program, I saw there were people that actually cared," according to Kevin. "There were still some people left in the world with human compassion."
Kevin soon transitioned into Beth-El Center's residential shelter program when a spot opened up. He spent a little over a month there before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Center then moved him and other residents—first to a hotel in New Haven, then to the Motel 6 in Milford. By sheltering at the motels, the Center doubled its shelter capacity to support safe and healthy quarantining of its residents including Kevin.
Tomeka Hudson, Kevin's Beth El-Center case manager, was an instrumental part of his journey. She helped him find a room for rent in New Haven, which is where he lives now, and offered guidance and moral support. The Center's 'rapid exit' case management approach provided housing-focused funds and services intended to help Kevin exit homelessness quickly.
During the pandemic from March to August, Beth-El transition Kevin and 41 other homeless individuals and families to permanent housing-
"Kevin's journey exemplifies the continuum of services we offer at the Center," Beth-El's Executive Director Jenn Paradis said. "His testimony is proof that there is hope for every person experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community and that permanent housing is possible for everyone."
Due to the pandemic, Kevin was laid off from his restaurant job. He said Tomeka continues to help him look for work by sending him any tips or opportunities. In the meantime, Kevin volunteers at the Beth-El Center soup kitchen two days a week doing heavy lifting, maintenance, cleaning and other odd jobs to assist the soup kitchen manager Camille.
"Beth-El Center's staff have so much compassion and really care about people. They have limited resources but they do everything they can to help people move forward, "said Kevin. "People who come here need to help themselves-- you get out of this experience what you put into it."
90 New Haven Avenue
Milford, CT 06460
The Beth-El Center's mission is to alleviate homelessness and hunger in the Milford area through shelter, support services, advocacy and community education in partnership with the faith-based community and public and private organizations.