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Every Tuesday and Thursday, Chris goes to the food pantry at Allied Churches to volunteer. “I like going up there, because I like helping people,” he explains. “Because I was in that situation before.” With the help of doctors, caseworkers, and a steady routine, Chris’s life is stable. But it wasn’t always that way.
When he was eight years old, his parents divorced, and he began bouncing back and forth between his parents’ homes. He got in trouble a lot, and ended up in jail. He quit school in the 9th grade and began working until he was eighteen when he moved out of his mother’s house. But without a steady job, and with undiagnosed mental illness, Chris found himself living on the streets. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol, making it all the more difficult to break out of poverty. Then in 2005, he made his way back to Pennsylvania to live with his mother, and checked into a drug rehab program. Not only did he get sober, his mental illness was finally diagnosed. Consistent counseling and proper medication has helped Chris get back on his feet.
Today, Chris is living in his own home for the first time, thanks to the help of the Rapid Rehousing Program through Allied Churches. Today he sees his counselor every Wednesday, his father every Sunday, and does odd jobs in between to help supplement his disability benefits. He takes life one day at a time, “trying to find things in life that won’t harm me or lead me astray.”
Interviewed by Sara Beth Puckett, 2015. Photographed by Trina Holt, 2015