Life After COVID
Music is Robert’s passion. While he can play piano and bass guitar, Robert has a special talent for producing. His career showed promise – he worked in a music studio and even had a song featured in a major motion picture. He was thriving, but the temptation of drug use from others in the music industry was too much. He became addicted to cocaine.
Eventually, Robert needed more money for drugs than even producing music could provide. Robert began “running” for the drug dealers. He sold to an undercover police officer, and was sent to prison. His correctional facility featured a boot camp treatment program for drug offenders, and Robert did well under the structure and discipline. He received an early parole, and moved in with his mother.
Homestyle Cooking, Heartbreak, and Homelessness
Robert’s mother had always shared her love of cooking with him. It was this time together again, bonding in the kitchen that helped Robert take control of his life. Robert found a job in the kitchen of a local restaurant and things seemed to be going well for him. But when his mother passed away in 2016, Robert had nowhere to go. He became homeless. He did not want to burden his siblings, who had families of their own, and instead found himself at the doors of the Rescue Mission Emergency Shelter.
While staying in the shelter, he began volunteering with the Rescue Mission – cooking meals in the kitchen, or helping to sort donations. He soon moved to Gifford Place, the Rescue Mission’s permanent supportive
In March 2020, due to the coronavirus, Robert lost his job. Despite this setback, he continued to volunteer. One day, after helping to sort donations, Robert went back to his room. It was warm inside, but Robert began to shake with the chills. He had a fever. A trip to the emergency room confirmed the worst: Robert tested positive for COVID-19.
After a short hospital stay, Robert returned home to quarantine at Gifford Place. During a regular visit from Danita, his case manager, she noticed fluid building up in Robert’s hands and feet. She urged him to return to the hospital. There, Robert was diagnosed with a rare kidney complication of COVID-19.
After a second stay in the hospital, Robert is again home at Gifford Place. He wants to get back to work, but his kidneys have not fully recovered, and he still suffers with a lingering cough. Still, he takes his recovery day-by-day and is grateful for his life.
He credits his faith for saving his life on numerous occasions, both in prison and from COVID-19. “I thank God,” he says, “He’s showed up for me. It’s great to be alive.” He is also thankful for Danita, who would call every day to check on him while he was in the hospital, and also for Yulon, the Rescue Mission chaplain, who encouraged Robert through this illness.
Today, Robert has found camaraderie and a renewed sense of community with his Gifford Place neighbors. He eagerly shares cell phone pictures of a recent Sunday dinner he prepared for the residents – macaroni and cheese and collard greens.
"I thank God. He’s showed up for me. It’s great to be alive."Robert
He has also found his music again, using money he saved to buy new producing equipment. He wipes a tear from his eye as he recalls praying years ago, for the life he is just now seeing again, “I got on my knees and I asked that man [God] for forgiveness. Take these drugs. Take this taste out of my mouth. Please can I have my music back?”
Robert credits the Rescue Mission and its supporters for providing the stability he needed to survive. “You are beautiful people,” he says. “The Rescue Mission has been a safe haven for me. If you need somewhere to lay your head, to get something to eat. You can go to the Mission.”