Most people come into a homeless shelter for the same reason. They’re low on money and resources and they’ve burned up all the good will of their usual lifelines. How each person gets to that point is often for reasons entirely their own. For me, it was depression. The last six years of my life (I’m 24 now) have been spent fighting a losing battle with this illness. It pulled me out of college and back into my parents’ house. It cost me friendships and countless jobs. And through a seemingly endless series of ups and downs, my bank account ran dry and the people in my support system were at their wits’ end. After years of therapy and medicines I was still losing ground. That’s when my parents and I met Eric Lane, Executive Director of Fellowship Missions and heard his take on recovery. And while “homeless” is never what you want, it was agreed that it might be what I needed.

I checked into Fellowship Missions on February 12, 2015. I remember that day, and that I seriously debated with myself, for a long time, if I’d rather just spend the night in my car. And if it wasn’t a blistering 10 degrees outside that night I just might have. I walked in solemnly, like I had given up, compromised with failure. I’m giving up and asking a stranger for a place to stay. In a way this was true. By asking for help that night I was giving up, but I wasn’t giving up hope. What I was giving up was the notion that I was going to keep going at this the same way I had been; the same way that ground my life to a screeching halt these last 5 years. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time that that’s what I was doing, but the people at Fellowship knew right away. They didn’t know me, but they’ve seen me before, they understand the frustration painted on my face. I truly think the only fear about my new residence that remained after that first night was the name “homeless shelter.” I wasn’t afraid of my housemates. I wasn’t worried about cleanliness. I wasn’t nauseated by the food. It was all so great, the only problems to be found were in my head. My second day there I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t learn anyone’s name; that I would remain above the homelessness around me and not collude with the lowlifes and problem people that filled this space. By March I knew them all. I would like to humbly apologize to Tom, Marj, Curt, Jerry, George, Caleb, Tim, Mark, Donna, Alicia, Brian, Jack, Joe, my good friend Jim, and everyone that’s made the decision to enter those doors.

Over these last 10 months, a lot of things happened for me. A lot of hard work and fortunate bounces all led to a slow and steady recovery. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what helped me get back to where I am today. I saw a new psychiatrist and a new counselor. I made new friends and found a new job that I look forward to doing every week. And it was Fellowship’s Discipleship program that got those dominoes falling. The program is centered on Christian principles, but in reality, my discipleship was centered on me, and it used Christian principles to push me forward every week. I couldn’t buy this kind of dedication; it’s the type of good will that only comes from a certain kind of people. With all these new experiences coming into play, it’s hard to say exactly what pulled me through all this, but I know one thing that persisted throughout it all. One factor that stayed the same, that never swayed. And that was the place I came home to every night, and the faces that greeted me when I got there. And for that I am thankful to Fellowship Missions.

-Max H.