A Step Forward: One Man’s Pathway Toward Health and Housing

Written by United Way

April 10, 2018

“I’ve tried everything and nothing works. I just don’t see things changing…” he boldly said to his case manager.

Over the last few years, Anton* had been in and out of homeless shelters, struggling to cope with his mental illness. He often experienced severe levels of low energy, which made him feel isolated and unmotivated. It had been that way for a while. He figured he’d deal with it the same way he always had — alone.

James*, the case manager at St. Paul’s Community Center, seemed convinced there were options for him, but, Anton wasn’t quite sure. He felt uncomfortable talking with James about support, or for that matter, anyone outside his African American culture. All his life, he was rarely among people of a different race. However, slowly over the months, James had built a rapport with him, and Anton was learning to tolerate James’ presence and open up to him about his life and background.

“I know you’re trying to help me,” Anton admitted, “I guess I would feel more comfortable if the person helping seemed more like me.”

St. Paul’s Community Center works to secure emergency shelter as a bridge toward eliminating chronic homelessness. The Shelter also supports a large portion of Toledo’s mentally ill homeless population. It’s the case manager’s role to find the best way to support those in need, and often, it takes patience and an open mind to best deliver individual support.

Time and time again, St. Paul’s staff had recommended various mental health care services to Anton, and each time, he declined support. But this evening was different. After many conversations with Anton, James uncovered valuable insight to his needs and comfortability in getting help.

With this new key piece of information, James reached out to his community health partners and paired Anton with Trevor*– an African American mental health worker. Immediately Anton seemed to feel more at ease. In the days and weeks that followed, this simple adjustment made a big difference.

Anton’s trust level with Trevor quickly deepened, and he began independently reaching out for help on a more consistent basis, leading to true transformations in both his environment and mind.


There are still good days and bad days, but today is one of the good ones.

Today is moving day.

With the help of his caseworker, Anton had applied and was approved for permanent supportive housing.

“Finally Anton was consistently feeling the drive and motivation to make big, positive life changes.”

As Anton exited St. Paul’s Community Center, he took one last glance across the room and saw the familiar face of James. With a wide smile and a proud look – James waved goodbye.

Slowly, Anton took his first significant step through one door and toward the next.


This post is brought to you by Owens Corning, an international leader in roofing, insulation and fiberglass composites. With 19,000 employees in 37 countries, this Fortune 500 company maintains a strong philanthropic presence in its communities around the globe and in its world headquarters hometown of Toledo, Ohio.


*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by St. Paul’s Community Center, on behalf of their United Way funded program: “The Shelter”/Winter Crisis Center. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

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