Mike Shealey has big dreams of housing people in need. When his mother was alive, she always helped people who needed to get on their feet, and Mike wants to continue her legacy of hospitality. He says, “She was the peanut butter to the jelly. She brought the family together. Everything I do, I do for her because I appreciate everything that she did for me.”
Right now, Mike is moving toward his main goal of becoming a homeowner. He’s working a full-time job and staying with family. In his spare time, he volunteers at Roof Above. He says, “I love the laundry room because of the one-on-one interaction. Yes, neighbors want their laundry done. They also want to be listened to, and I want to be approachable.”
Connecting with neighbors is important to Mike because he experienced homelessness for a year. He moved to Charlotte after hearing about the plentiful job market, and he decided to establish his own cleaning business. Then COVID made it difficult to get business. Even though he was working other side jobs, Mike couldn’t afford his rent, which was $1,600 per month.
On the experience of being homeless, Mike says, “It was like taking a sailboat out in the deep ocean. It was very hard to navigate.”
Eventually, Mike made his way to the Day Services Center. He says, “The staff had my best interests at heart. They helped me with resources, like finding a job, finding clothes, and finding assistance to get my documents together.” Always a hard worker, Mike chose to help Ray, a Facilities team member, clean up the campus because of the joy Ray brought to his job. Mike says, “Ray taught me lessons. He motivated me. He’s one of a kind.”
Once Mike got into the shelter, other team members poured encouragement into him. He says the best advice he got was from Mr. President, a shelter housing navigator. Mike recounts the moment: “Mr. President said it’s very easy to give up. It’s hard to keep pushing, but those who keep pushing are winners. Then he asked, ‘What are you?’ I said, ‘I’m a winner.’”
Mike kept a positive mentality as he journeyed toward housing with prayer and persistence. Through a cousin, he learned that he had relatives in the Charlotte area. When his family heard about his situation, they welcomed Mike. He says, “The whole family has a heart for helping people because they always put God first in their lives.”
Mike says that volunteering at Roof Above keeps him motivated to work toward his dreams. When he sees other young men struggling in the same situation he was in, he thinks about their potential. He says, “Maybe I can be the spark that ignites them.”