Kenny, 27, had hit rock bottom when he arrived on the doorstep of Ozanam Inn Men’s Homeless Shelter a few years ago. A self-described “monster,” he was a homeless drug addict who survived through criminal activity. He’d been using drugs since the summer he turned 11 years old, when he overdosed seven times.
A few years ago, after a suicide attempt through an intentional heroin overdose left him declared legally dead by the paramedics who picked him up outside a motel, he was revived. “When I finally woke up in the hospital, I just remember my mom and dad standing there, tears in their eyes, holding my son and saying, ‘How could you do this to him?’” Kenny says.
“I knew then and there that I was still here for a reason. God had a plan for me.”
Kenny sought treatment at the then-new Emergency Recovery (ER) Program at St. Vincent de Paul. “It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life,” he says. “Everything in you wants to run,” he explains. “I was terrified. I didn’t want to look at everything I’d done in my past.”
With intensive case management, structure, accountability, and group therapy, Kenny made remarkable progress in acknowledging traumatic childhood events. “I discovered the real Kenny, and the pain that I had been trying to cover up all those years,” he said.
Clean and sober, and with renewed purpose in his life, Kenny eventually got a good job working as an electrician while he completed the last phase of SVDP’s ER Program. “I was transformed,” he says. “What this program offers is bringing the darkness to the light. It’s Jungian psychology. It’s healing – true healing. It’s hard to explain, but it’s something spiritual, sacred and amazing.”
Kenny’s story has the best possible outcome: He resolved his legal issues. Today, at 27, he has custody of Bryce, now 5. They live together in St. Vincent de Paul Homes’ Family Apartments.
As a resident in this supportive housing program, Kenny continues to receive case management and has access to SVDP’s other programs, including our Open Hand Kitchen and after-school children’s programming at the Family Success Center.
“This place has been a true gift,” he says of St. Vincent de Paul. “It’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived. It’s given me a healthy lifestyle. And there’s literally every resource here to help me get back on my feet to live a good life and become a productive member of society.”
Kenny has a full-time job subcontracting as an electrician for a construction company. Last winter he earned his GED, and he recently completed his first semester at Jefferson Community & Technical College, making all A’s.
He is still active with the men’s ER Program at the shelter, attending meetings, teaching classes, and even sponsoring a client. His long-term goal is to get his college degree in social work and become an addiction counselor. He also wants to own his own home.
For now, though, Kenny sees his greatest accomplishment as being a dad.
“I never imagined that I’d get to put my son to bed every night, get to read him bedtime stories, and that I’d get to say prayers with him every night,” he says.
“That unconditional love we both feel is amazing,” Kenny adds. “And that happiness and hope we both have in our hearts is all from this place.”
This article is featured in the current issue of The Good Samaritan, St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s monthly newsletter.
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