Donald's Creating Community after Retirement from the Navy

As a Navy airplane and helicopter mechanic and inspector from the age of 23, Donald traveled the world and learned how to create community wherever he went. After ten years in the Navy, he transitioned into civilian life where he worked for another decade at the VA Hospital in Tacoma doing environmental facility maintenance. Unfortunately, his background in machinery severely impacted his physical health and led to his inability to continue his work. Left with chronic pain in his shoulders and back, and a need for double wrist surgery, his disability status affected his employment, residency, retirement plan, and savings.

For the next three and half years, Donald experienced homelessness, and struggled to acquire the resources he needed to regain stability again. “I was always trying to find a better solution, but there wasn’t always one available,” he said about living in a homeless shelter. “I would go to the park to get exercise, go to the library to research things.” He worked with his VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) counselor and was placed in transitional housing at Andrew’s Glen. There he worked with his Imagine Housing case manager and VASH worker to secure a permanent home at our Francis Village community.

Donald has been a resident at Francis Village for a year now, and loves his apartment. Now that he has stable housing, he’s been able to work toward his health and employment goals. Donald has always liked working with his hands and finds ways to provide a helping hand to his neighbors at Francis Village. He plays a pivotal role in creating community at the bi-monthly community meals. He has recently completed his double wrist surgery and shared that he would like to go back to work. He especially wants to become a liaison, someone who can help veterans experiencing homelessness transition into stable housing, because he knows finding and connecting with resources can feel overwhelming.

It’s more conducive to allow people to try to reestablish themselves in being a part of a community. It gives them the opportunity to be responsible for themselves and their community.

When you’re given the opportunity to maintain the roof over your head, you can take pride in it.