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Emergency Shelter Celebrates "Graduates"

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky welcomed back some of its success stories Wednesday for a dinner and discussion. Men who spent time on the streets, homeless for various reasons, showed up to express their gratitude for a second chance. Shelter director Rachael Winters also expressed gratitude. "We all need help to get through life, even me," Winters told the men before serving them a barbecue dinner. "Helping you helps me and I'm not sure many of you truly understand me when I say that. Perhaps you envision my life as perfect, stable or without need. You are wrong. Whenever you help someone, you help yourself. Helping you, helps me stay away from depression, from my own needless worries and you have taught me life lessons."
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"It was a difference between life and death for me," said Tom, a man dropped off in front of the Emergency Center by a state hospital last March. The former substance abuser had suffered some phyiscal problems and heart trouble and was in a wheelchair when he was left at the Scott Boulevard building without anyone calling the Shelter in advance. Winters let Tom in and he began working his way toward recovery. Tom, who is now able to walk but relies on the help of a walker sometimes, was able to get assistance to collect his disability check and he now lives in his own place and has bettered his once troubled relationship with his wife, all thanks to his time at the Emergency Shelter, he said.
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"I want for nothing right now," said Jim, another man sharing his homeless-to-housing story Wednesday. "Without this place it's really hopeless. Thank God it's here." Jim now lives in the Golden Towers apartments.
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Roy used his time at the Shelter to find the motivation to go back to school, earn his GED, and start a moving business. He also works as a temp at L'Oreal. "They helped me out a lot, Roy said. "I came up here from Florida to start over again." Roy now has an apartment in Latonia.
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"It's wonderful to see the amount of people," said Sister Janet Bucher, a board member at the Shelter who works at Covington's predominantly African-American Catholic Church, Our Savior. "Rachael's done a super job. It's tremendous."
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The positive effect that Winters and the Shelter has on people extends beyond the ones sleeping there during its summer program or during its emergency winter nights. "Having a roof over your head and a little income, we take it for granted," said Paul Pauley, a frequent volunteer from Edgewood who makes biscuits and gravy for the guys every Friday morning. "It's just great to see. It's tough, you just have compassion for someone who can't go to the fridge or the bathroom when they want to. They don't have a place."
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But thanks to the Shelter many men now do have a place of their own. "Many of you were able to tell me or another staff member what was really in your way of experiencing joy," Winters told the men. "Whether t was addiction, past abuse, depression, grief, or shame, you shared and by sharing we move on. I also learned about receiving help. You are never too low or too high, too poor or too rich to need another human being's help. There is always someone who has paved the road before us who can help shed a little light on self improvement or just obtaining a basic life necessity."
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See also: The annual Run for Shelter is October 20 in Devou Park. For details, click here