2020 was a year of firsts for many people, but homeless was not a first Doug thought he would experience. Doug has been an over-the-road truck driver for over 25 years, many of which he was an owner-operator. In 2019 diabetes forced him off the road as he lost his CDL (commercial driver’s license) because of the disease. Using his savings, he rented an apartment—his first in years—and began working on regaining his health with a goal of getting back on the road in the spring of 2020.
Like so many others, the shutdown intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus deprived Doug of any employment opportunities. It didn’t take long before he had burned through his savings and found himself facing eviction, despite the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. In July 2020, the inevitable happened, and Doug was evicted and now homeless.
Needless to say, depression set in, and with that, thoughts of suicide. Thankfully Doug sought treatment for his depression at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. At the end of his two-week stay, his caregivers connected him with Ozanam Inn Men’s Shelter at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville.
As you might imagine, this has been hard for Doug. “I’ve never in my life been homeless… I’ve had tough times but never homeless. It was a wake-up call for me to get motivated and get moving to where I can get a place and get my life back on track,” Doug said.
“I would describe Doug as everyone’s favorite grandfather. He helped a lot of other guys who were feeling hopeless get connected with Pam (Scott) and Matt (Weaver) as well as promote their groups. Doug was a very easy client to assist. He was always thankful and appreciative of everything St. Vincent de Paul Louisville could do for him,” said Olivia Raley, Doug’s case manager at Ozanam Inn.
While staying at Ozanam Inn, Doug was able to seek counseling for his depression with the expanded clinical services staff. Doug said, “I was fighting depression really bad early on. Thanks to Matt and Pam… I was able to work through a lot of it and not let it get too severe. All the little things early on that piled up that pushed me into a depression and everything. As we got closer to getting the apartment and getting the housing taken care of it has been fantastic as far as helping relieve a lot of that situational type depression that I was going through.” Many medications used to treat depression are restricted for those that wish to maintain a CDL which meant Doug was unable to take any medication available to him. “My experience with Doug has been one of the most successful yet from a therapeutic point of view,” said Matt Weaver, Associate Director of Clinical Services at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville. Matt adds, “Doug presented with situational depression stemming from medical/physical issues, loss of employment and minimal support leading to homelessness and exacerbation of anxiety and depressive symptoms resulting in need for intervention and 1:1 therapy. Despite ebbs and flows surrounding his medical issues and housing timeline setbacks, Doug always presented with a positive and grateful attitude.”
That attitude is what drove Doug to seek help getting control of his diabetes. “Doug began attending my groups at Ozanam Inn somewhere in August,” said Pam Scott, Clinical Services Coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville. “He somehow got the idea that due to my role being addiction counseling, he needed an addiction to fit it to my groups. His substance of abuse was sugar, and Doug was facing that fact. He spoke about his diabetes getting out of control in group and really how he lost his job due to his diabetes. His blood sugar was not regulated. Doug set out on a journey to get his diabetes regulated so that he could return to his job as a truck driver. He reported to the group that he has lost 100 pounds and is working on getting healthy enough to get back on the road, which he is very passionate about. Doug has always been there to lend a hand to others when in need and is a very caring individual,” Pam added.
Doug’s hard work and perseverance are paying off. He has since moved out of Ozanam Inn and into his own apartment with a rapid rehousing voucher. He recently started a new job and is still has his eye on renewing his CDL.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to assist Doug in meeting his goal, and he will soon be ‘On the Road Again’! Not only will Doug continue attending groups, he will bring others to it and help them along the way,” Pam said.
We have sheltered, fed, and nurtured those in need since 1853, and we remain committed to our mission now more than ever.
St. Vincent de Paul Louisville is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 61-0727110