Samaar was born in Akron, OH, and was raised by his paternal grandparents, because his parents were young teenagers when he was born. He was the youngest in a house filled with many children. His grandfather died when Samaar was only fourteen, and by that time, many of his aunts and uncles had already moved out, so he quickly got a full-time job to help his grandmother out with bills. “I had to become the man of the house,” he recalled. He also began drinking to cope with stress. He immediately enrolled in the Marines from high school, and lived in Florida and a few other cities.
After he left the marines, Samaar worked at a number of jobs, but also suffered from great anxiety due to a number of events that happened in his life. Samaar stated that he used alcohol to cope. He found himself homeless, and lived on the streets and in and out of the men’s shelter. He recalled hearing about Permanent Supportive Housing from a veteran representative at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, and interviewed for a placement. He then forgot all about it until a persistent street outreach worker found him living in the streets, and told him there was a place for him. Once living at The Liberty, he sought treatment for his alcohol addiction and has been sober since April 6, 2016. Samarr’s motto has been “When I’m stress-free, I can work on ME”.
Samaar stated that he loves his apartment, but also is working on the goal of moving out and into his own place now that he feels he has the tools for independent living. “If you want to change, being here will help you become a better person.” When asked about the staff and living in supportive housing, Samaar emphatically stated: “The staff here have elped me so much, PSH is great and works IF you take advantage of the services.”
When asked how PSH has improved his life, he said “It changed me and made me a person; I’m somebody now.”
EDEN wishes Samaar continued success in working to achieve his life goals.
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, The Liberty at St. Clair hosted an event to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Many former residents and staff were in attendance. Kind, thoughtful, humorous, and moving speeches were given, and delicious food was enjoyed.
Jeniece Tillman was the first property manager at The Liberty, and she still likes to visit when she can. She mentioned that although she was there to help the residents begin their new lives, she feels she learned more from them about herself, life, and how to interact with all kinds of people in the world, than she could have imagined. She mentioned that it “was truly a family here at The Liberty”. One former resident recalls her bringing him a leftover piece of her wedding cake.
Other former building staff in attendance were: Sonya Thompkins- former Program Manager, Melissa Keith- former Case Manager, Tim Smith- former Case Manager, Brittany Jones- former Employment Specialist, Katherine Barney-Cheney- former Employment Specialist, Semeka Gore--former Employment Specialist.
A former resident spoke at length about how The Liberty changed his life. The name Permanent Supportive Housing may be deceiving, because the average length of stay in a PSH building is around two years. Our hope is always that residents will use their time in PSH to feel safe and supported, increase life stability, and access the wrap-around services they need to set and achieve goals.
Howard Singleton did that, and more. He moved into The Liberty soon after it opened, in March of 2008. He spoke of how he had grown tired of living on the streets and in and out of shelter for over twenty years. Mr. Singleton focused his time at The Liberty to meet with counselors, attend group sessions, and gain his sobriety. Then, with the guidance and support of staff, which included Jeniece, Melissa and Tim, Howard engaged in training and sought employment. He went through several certification programs, and found some entry level jobs such as washing dishes. He stated he was “the best dishwasher they ever had!”
Howard wanted to achieve additional goals, and wanted to give back and help those who had the same struggles he once did. He went through a training program and is now a Certified Dependency Counselor Assistant. Howard works for the organization Volunteers of America, (VOA), and helps military families that have a veteran struggling with substance use. He lived in The Liberty for one year and eleven months, and in that time, he was able to take control of his life, and started a new career. This is the goal of Permanent Supportive Housing, and the goal for the Housing First model.
EDEN is so happy that The Liberty planned and celebrated this amazing Anniversary milestone, and looks forward to providing our community’s most vulnerable residents with a warm and welcoming home during the next 10 years.
We wish Howard and all former and current residents of The Liberty continued well-being, and great progress in achieving their goals.