Michele joined the coast guard on her 18th birthday in 1976. She was honorably discharged after being diagnosed with a spine deformity. She went on to work at the Urban League of Cleveland, the IRS and Veterans Affairs office, all doing secretarial work. She typed nearly 100 words per minute and said she loved the quick pace of office work. In 1998, she suffered a heart attack at the young age of 40. Unable to work, she moved back in with her mother.
For years, Michele struggled with medical complications and issues with medications. After her mother’s death, Michele struggled greatly, and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. Michele spent some time at the Norma Herr Women’s Center, the West Side Catholic Center, and the VA hospital. She credits the care of the staff and the nourishment of the food at the VA with getting her on the road to recovery and sobriety. Michele was able to move into Permanent Supportive Housing at the Commons at West Village in November of 2017. She stated that Toni, a staff person from the VA, was integral in helping her move into her new home.
Michele shared that “having my own place has kept me sober”. When asked what advice she would offer to others struggling with homelessness she stated: “Don’t give up before the miracle happens”. When in shelter, and now in her home, she has always tried to keep up to date on the news and current events. “If you can get to a computer, you can get to the world” she affirmed.
Michele is also an experienced knitter, and has been teaching other residents in her building how to knit. She knits scarves and hats and gives them to homeless people in shelters. She states it is important to always give back.
Michele will be celebrating her 60th birthday this month and is planning a party. She has not had a birthday party since she was 21 years old, and is looking forward to celebrating this milestone!
We are so happy that Michele has found the safety and security she deserves in her new home. EDEN wishes her a happy birthday and many more!