Donnie’s Story

Donnie knows what hunger—deep, gnawing hunger—feels like. “There are times in the past when I’ve gone two or three or four days without eating. It affects your mind along with your body.”

He knows what homelessness is like, too. “Living in a tent camp is hard and dangerous. There’s the danger of hypothermia in the winter. And there’s always the danger of being robbed, beaten, having your few things stolen.”

Donnie’s struggles stem back many years, beginning with regrettable choices in his teenage years that led to being kicked out of school and home at only seventeen. In some ways, he was able to bounce back in the following years. He got married, started a business, bought a house. “We lived what looked like a good life,” he remembers, “but that whole time we were also caught up in drugs.” His addiction took its toll as the years went by, leading to time in prison and a broken marriage.

Although Donnie had periods of sobriety, things went downhill again two years ago when his mom died and he started spiraling. “I lost my job, lost my apartment, lost everything.” After he was evicted, he lived in a tent camp, and that’s when he began eating at Hope Café. “The other campers told me about Hope Café,” he says. “We’d get up early in the morning and go eat there at 7 a.m. Then we’d go again at noon. Three times a day, we’d be there. Without those meals, I wouldn’t have eaten. I didn’t have money for food.”

“At first, you have this pride where you don’t want to reach out for help,” Donnie adds. “But once I started eating there and got to know the staff, I realized they really cared. I felt very, very blessed.”

After eating at Hope Café daily for months, Donnie decided to join our life recovery program. “I knew what the consequences were if I kept living my same lifestyle. I knew if I was going into the recovery program, I had to take it seriously. You get more out of it if you put your heart and soul into it.”

That’s exactly what Donnie’s doing as he dives into program classes, works in the kitchen as part of his job readiness training and meets regularly with his case manager. “My walk with God is a lot stronger now. The Lord is part of my daily life.”

This month, Donnie is celebrating his ninth month of sobriety, and he remains committed to rebuilding his life! “My health is really spectacular now that I’m living a life of sobriety. I wake up in the morning thankful and I go to bed at night thankful. I really appreciate the blessings God has bestowed on me and my brothers here.”