From the Perspectives Newsletter: Finding Peace

From the Perspectives Newsletter: Finding Peace

After years of turmoil, Clinton’s recovery thrives with support and assistance of Places for People

From the Summer 2017 Perspectives Newsletter

When Clinton received a certificate of recognition for his involvement in Places for People’s Hope, Health and Housing grant program, he wanted to do more than simply say thank you. The moment moved Clinton to sing.

With tears in his eyes, in a room full of people, he sang a song he believes is called “Dreamers.”

The song has stuck with Clinton since it was shared with him more than 20 years ago in a prison in Nebraska.

“I think everybody got the idea that I was trying to give back. I was trying to show how Places for People has touched me.”

Since coming to Places for People in August 2016, the 45-year-old veteran has found a greater sense of peace and independence, and is developing new goals for his future.

In the past two decades, Clinton has experienced his share of ups and downs. He has been in and out of prison, been shot in the spine, experienced stints of homelessness, and lived with depression and mental illness.

A native of Kansas City, KS, Clinton entered the Marine Corps in 1990 just weeks after graduating from high school. He enlisted during the Persian Gulf War and trained at Camp Pendleton. As he recalls, training during a time of war was intense. His unit was not called to action, and Clinton returned to civilian life in Kansas City.

“I had a rough period after being separated from the military,” he said.

This traumatic time in the early 1990s included being involved in a fatal car accident, which resulted in a nine-month jail sentence. Clinton was also shot, which caused a spinal cord injury that still affects him.

In 2004, he moved to St. Louis to live in a halfway house.

“When I first came to St. Louis, I found myself depressed and homeless,” Clinton said.

At the time, he had “no outlet, no support system,” to deal with his trauma and mental illness.

Sometimes, Clinton was admitted to the inpatient program at St. Alexius Hospital.

Sometimes, Clinton tried to cope with his mental illness through self medication with alcohol and other substances. “Self medication came from the depression and thinking I was going to receive some sort of feeling, some sort of relief, but it’s not really relief, it’s all in the mind and it’s costly.”

In early 2016, he gained permanent housing through a veterans’ program at another
organization in St. Louis, but that did not work out due a lack of accommodations for his physical impairments.

That’s when he took the step to start services at Places for People. He knew Places for People had helped one of his friends. “I knew what they did for him; I just never stopped by to see what they could do for me.”

In August 2016, he enrolled in services. A few months later, he moved into his apartment through the Hope, Health and Housing grant program, which has helped more than 200 people served by Places for People move from chronic homelessness into permanent housing since 2015.

In addition to helping Clinton find stable housing, his treatment team – the Action Team — helped connect Clinton with a new primary care physician and a psychiatrist. He meets weekly with the team, and works daily on his recovery by participating in therapy groups at Places for People. He also has a one-on-one therapy session once a week at Places for People.

“Clinton is a joy to work with,” said Action Team Leader Megan Crollard. “He is always on time and eager to work. He is always motivated to work toward his goals.”

When Clinton first came to Places for People, Megan said he was quiet and somewhat withdrawn. She has seen a change in him. “He has become a more productive and confident man, who is consistently working toward recovery and wellness. He has fought hard on all fronts – he has achieved housing, maintained a job, battled his mental illness, and is building meaningful relationships.”

The journey has not always been easy for Clinton, and he continues to gain wisdom from his experiences.

“I learned that if you are willing to help yourself and take the first step, people will see that you have potential and that you are making an effort to help yourself, and they’ll take the second step,” he said. “If people see you helping yourself, they don’t mind helping you.”

In the past few months, this support system has helped Clinton as he has dealt with challenges in a
relationship.

“I’m doing what I need to do to be a responsible citizen … They’ve given me the tools and shown that I have it in me,” he said. “Being able to talk about hurts and being able to heal and overcome everything that has happened to me to get me to this point where I am today.”

After spending time in groups during the day, Clinton prepares for his job. For the past seven months, Clinton has worked for a telemarketing firm. His current goal is to move into a supervisory role at the firm. “I like talking to people, I like helping people,” he said. “Feeling like I had a productive day – that’s what I like the most.”

With stable housing and employment, Clinton next hopes to make time for more exercise to improve the chronic pain in his knees and back.

Crollard said she sees great things in Clinton’s future. “I believe he will continue to live in independent housing, excel at his job, maintain close relationships with others, and maintain recovery from his mental illness.”

Since receiving assistance from Places for People, Clinton has a new long-term career goal. He would like to become a peer specialist to help others and share the lessons he’s learned. “I like helping people and I like sharing my story. That’s my goal to come up with a career move that would involve something I have a passion for, which is helping people avoid some hardships that I had in my life and giving back.”

He already uses his successes as an example to others when he is on the Places for People campus. “I give back every time I’m here by talking to those who are sicker than I am.”

Clinton is grateful to Places for People for helping him find peace and a renewed send of place in the community.

“Places for People has really made me aware that I can be independent,” he said. “I like the peace that comes along with being independent. I like feeling good about working every day. I feel good about paying my bills.”