From Homeless To College Bound: Indiana Dad’s Redemption Story
United Way, Ivy Tech Helps Downtrodden Man Rebuild Life
Columbus native Nathan Wilson hit a different jackpot — one
overflowing with people concerned for the down-trodden and struggling
who are stretching out a hand of help and hope. That lifeline
appeared when he landed at what he described as rock bottom.
called United Way of Bartholomew County.
You have to learn to
let go of your pride when you hit a really low point,,, Wilson said.
He slept in his 2001 Dodge Caravan, with 210,000 miles on the
odometer, the night before he called United Way 2-1-1 South Central
Indiana to request help with clothes. And now he can afford to grin a
bit these days.
Wilson got a job at the Sans Souci discount
store and worked his way up, eventually progressing to opera-tions
manager, the No. 2 post. He has become something of a poster boy for
United Way's program to boost local residents' financial stability.
And now Wilson recently enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College for
online classes for either the summer or fall so he eventually can
pursue a career in human resource management. His success story,
partly relayed at United Way's recent annual meeting in front of an
estimated 300 people, earned him a standing ovation. That left him
with overflowing emotion.
I wanted to step to the micro-phone
and say something... he said later. But I was in tears...
spoke volumes about how far he has come.
As far back as 2008, a
recurring battle with pancreatitis affected his work at two
manufacturing jobs. Whenever the illness severely flared up, he would
miss several days of work in a row, often enough that he eventually
would deplete his paid time off and fmally lose his job.
Or he would
miss days in his first
90 days, when there was little leeway for frequent absences.
jobs translated to lost insurance, which led to more seri-ous medical
problems, a loss of an apartment, and a tougher hurdle to find new
A couple of times,,, Wilson said, I ended up in the
hospital for a week. Looking back, I think a lot of my health issues
came from depression...
So he was linked with Center-stone, the local
nonprofit mental health provider, to help with that obstacle. Also,
Thrive Alliance assisted, along with Columbus Regional Health and
Cathy King, United Way financial stability coordinator and the drug
manufacturer, to get him a medicine costing thousands of dollars
every few months for a problem with psoriasis.
I just want
people to know that, no matter how bad a situation is, there are
people who can help in this community... Wilson said.
President Mark Stewart has led a local charge the past several years
to help county residents improve their financial lot in life. Stewart
acknowledged that local nonprofits had to work closely
with Wilson to make sure every time he took a step forward and saw
success such as a pay increase, he subsequently did not lose vari-ous
When people like Nathan are working hard
and doing their part to achieve self-sufficiency... Stewart said,
it is our job as a commu-nity to make sure we are doing
everything we can to remove the barriers to their success...
Adams, Sans Souci's executive director, has lauded Wil-son for
allowing people to connect him to various agencies and organ-izations
for help. For instance, when he confessed that he allowed dozens of
medical bills to go unpaid, Adams herself, known lit-erally to her
employees as a mom figure, came alongside him to file through them
and resolve them.
When he needed help with health insurance, he was
connected with Premium Link, a program that temporarily is paying his
reduced-cost $200-per-month premiums. When he talked of one day
enrolling in college classes, he was linked with McDowell Education
Center, which arranged for him to earn his high school equivalency
diploma right at Sans Souci... and be paid by his employer even as he
studied in class.
A program called Family Self Sufficiency helped him
find an apartment
and reconnect with his 12-year-old son, Nathaniel Wilson, stayed with
local relatives when Nathan was homeless. Literally, nonprofit and
other agencies united to help the Columbus resident, just as they say
they aim to do.
A key is that if people don't tell us their
specific problems, we can't really help them... Adams said.
Wilson went to Sans Souci for clothes, he asked about work and got
hired for an entry-level position. Step by step, he earned two
promotions and a chance at a restored life. He largely credits Adams
for giving him confidence to rebuild his life.
At that time
(two years ago), I had no faith in myself at all... he said.
Wilson thinks back to his three months of chilly nights spent in his
van, and the phone call to United Way 2-1-1 that triggered a chain
reaction of change, he scarce-ly can believe how far he has come.
I just hope... Wilson said, that people will see there is a lot of sup-port here in our community if you really want help... •
Source: The (Columbus) Republic, htO3://bitly/2nAfzzR
Information from: The Republic, ht0)://www.therepublic.com/