Where is Jesse now?

snowy-sandalsThere was a time when I would see Jesse every night on Halsted, usually dressed in a manner totally inappropriate for the weather. Not in a scandalous way—more like, in a flip-flops in November way. Jesse slept at the park, on the train, at friends’ houses, and oftentimes, in the houses of strangers.

Jesse lives with the symptoms of his mental illness and all of the side effects that his correlating medications cause. I very distinctly remember a conversation that we had on a warm, early autumn night. I was concerned that he had no plans for housing as winter approached. He had no desire to try, no motivation to do anything positive in his life. He spent most of his disability check on junk food and other things that offered him temporary relief from the stress in his life.

After a couple of years of us seeing him at our Ministry Center during the day and on Outreach at night, Jesse really bonded with some of the volunteers. He was introduced to some friends of theirs at Moody Bible Institute. He started attending church and going to small groups. For over two years now, Jesse has been budgeting his check. He pays rent on his room in the suburbs, and buys groceries, clothes, and a bus pass. Now we only see him once a week, when he uses his bus pass to volunteer with an organization that provides meals to the homeless in Boystown. As he puts it, “I like to keep busy and give back. It keeps my mind focused and I feel like I should be doing something positive.”

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