1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
> > Everyone Deserves the 1000th Chance

Recent Articles

  • loading


Everyone Deserves the 1000th Chance

July 1, 2015  |  Cathy Finn

This is about a young man who has been with us since 2009, and I had been working with him practically since I had begun at Duffy. He has spent nine years living in the woods on the Cape, after following a girlfriend from another state and deciding to stay. There are a lot of missed behavioral health and medical appointments in his file, a lot of catching him on the streets, or after another hospital visit for damaged caused by multiple fights. Dr. Lisa once told me he had had every bone in his body broken, and I don't think that is far from the truth. He used vast amounts of alcohol and multiple drugs. If you want to know about his prior life, check out the Duffy blog written about him a couple of years ago.

Duffy Health Center stayed there for him, through all his trauma and excesses. We brought him into the provider when we could, we brought him to pick up his belongings at the jail many times, multiple attempts were made to get him to behavioral health, and multiple attempts were made to get him social security, but he never had an address and he would disappear for days or weeks at a time, so that effort was ineffective.

Then something changed.

This February he was released from jail again and met with Arlene, who had taken his case over from Jeffrey, who had taken it over from me... he told Arlene since he had been in jail he hadn't been able to get his camp set up properly; the night before he saw her was uncomfortable because his socks had frozen in his boots- we all remember what last winter was like. Due to the very bad weather, Arlene used In From The Streets money to place him in the Cascade for the weekend. We gave him clothes, we let him take showers.

In March we were able to offer him a Housing First certificate. We have very few housing certificates, but one became available, and the case management department wanted to give our gentleman a chance (we want to give everyone a chance, but we have such limited resources). He moved in to his new home mid March...his first home in at least nine years, except for couch surfing in bad weather or the foyer of the shelter.

I sometimes don't recognized him when I see him now. With all the dirt washed off his skin in his own shower, he looks sharp. Ever since he got his home, he has a place to hang his clothes, and he is making some real effort to look good. He is seeing a therapist, making medical appointments for the first time in his life, and seems to be staying out of any kind of fight or angst. I haven't seen him under the influence. He shows up at Duffy sober and looking good.

The first few weeks weren't easy- he told Arlene he wasn't sure he could live in an apartment, it was hard on him emotionally not to be out in a tent. Arlene pointed out there was no requirement to stay in his apartment every night, he could go back to the woods any time he wanted...and having that permission seemed to be enough to make it easier for him to stay 'confined'.

Duffy Health Center has hung in with this gentleman for six years, good and bad. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have been afraid he would have been among the dead we memorialize every December, a fear I have for many of our patients. Now I see someone who can live competently in a home and to use a trite and judgmental phrase 'stay out of trouble'. If he backslides for some reason, and some folks do, we will still be here for him. Everyone deserves that 1,000th chance, because, as this man illustrates, you never know when all the heavens will pull together and something will work.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more great success stories like this and the inside scoop on what's going on at Duffy.

To find out more about the In from the Streets program, visit our website.