It’s a cold and rainy January day and Laylinick or “Bay” is bringing to-go plates of hot spaghetti and meatballs from the kitchen of Howard Levine Men’s Shelter to the older gentlemen outside. “They have it worse than me, I serve them and make sure they eat before I do.”
He is a ball of energy at the shelter, helping clean in the kitchen, taking out the trash, and taking care of the elder guests. He is quiet, his big smile tucked behind his mask. “I don’t usually talk to people; I don’t feel like I have a story to tell or an ice breaker.”
Bay was born in Thailand with Cerebral palsy. His family – he, his mom, dad, and two brothers – immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 when he was a toddler. He had his first child when he was 14. Bay has experienced homelessness for most of his life. He served time in prison from 2005 to 2010 and when he wasn’t living couch to couch, he would sleep in front of a church in Mt. Holly.
His younger brother is now serving time. “It killed me when my brother went to jail,” Bay shares. This circumstance has motivated Bay to strive to be a better role model. “I am trying to show him that I am here, struggling with you.” He connected with Roof Above in October and is working every day towards a plan for housing and life stability.
He is currently working with Roof Above’s employment specialist, James Brown, to get jobs lined up. He has experience in maintenance, facilities, and landscaping.
“I count my blessings and I’m grateful for what I’ve been building….these positive relationships around me with Mr. Charles (Charles Moore, first shift supervisor at Howard Levine Men’s Shelter) and Ms. D (Dorenda Durr, homeless shelter assistant at Howard Levine Men’s Shelter),” he says.
“I used to be addicted to problems. And it felt like problems were addicted to me,” Bay reflects. “On the street, there was no one to go to with my problems, here I have someone to go to. Mr. Charles, he takes me to church,” Bay shares with a smile.
Bay shares that he is “moving differently” now. “I am learning how to build empathy and trust.”
Bay has a focused determination on his goals for 2022. “I want to get my social security card and ID, I want to see my brother, I want a 9-5 job and I want to continue to get stronger mentally.”
These goals can be lofty for someone in Bay’s position. Bay needs to apply to get his immigration card, a process that isn’t simple. Due to the pandemic, the process to get essential documentation like a Social Security card and North Carolina ID is often even more arduous. He needs these so he can apply to jobs, open a bank account apply to Social Security Disability, and housing. Bay remains undeterred though. Now that he is moving differently, he sees the positive relationships and support building around him. He is focused on being that positive influence on his younger brother. “I’m going to break the cycle,” Bay states confidently. “I know that I am being called for something positive.”