“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
This prayer is said at the end of every meeting. For Clarence, it was the moments outside of his control that clarified the changes he could make. After suffering from a stroke while homeless, Clarence was told he would not walk again. In recovering from his injury, he also began his recovery from addiction. “I believe God gave me this one more warning before he’s done with me,” reflects Clarence. Today, Clarence is taking both journeys, step by step, in Roof Above’s Homeful Housing program at Hillrock Estates.
Clarence had no place of his own since 2010. He bounced between staying with friends and living in his car. Some days, he would drive beyond the Charlotte city limits until he found “a place of peace” where he could relax and be alone.
But it was in relying on community after his stroke that Clarence was able to find the support he needed. After leaving detox last year, he had no place to go. A fellow member of Narcotics Anonymous opened up his home to Clarence. “God gave me that chance,” he said. And he took it: going to meetings every day and coming to Roof Above.
Clarence has been part of the Homeful Housing program for three months. Homeful Housing is a permanent supportive program (PSH) where tenants are supported in their apartments through case managers who go “above and beyond,” in Clarence’s words. “Bob [a Homeful Housing case manager] is a beautiful man; he would give his left and his right foot,” Clarence says with a smile. In housing, he no longer needs to drive away to find his place of peace: “I’m focusing on being still.”
That does not mean Clarence is no longer traveling, but now, he is taking trips to visit his family in New York. He is especially dedicated to taking care of his three grandchildren: “That’s the real high.”
He continues to become a better grandpa in recovery. Clarence shared that on his recent trip to see his kids and grandkids: “I’m so proud of you daddy. You have changed.”
At the age of 55, Clarence is optimistic about this new chapter in his life. He has dreams to visit every state, get back to baseball once he fully recovers from his stroke, and watch his grandchildren grow up. “I’ve learned that you just don’t give up. Changing your life isn’t as hard as you think; you just have to be willing to do it,” he said.