No Simple Road

Durango Community Shelter

Finn* has faced homelessness twice in his life. At 16, he fled an abusive homelife and lived alone in a tent until he could enlist in the military. He served Honorably in the United States Army Reserves for 8 years, while obtaining his GED, college degree, and post-graduate degrees. He had started his own family and was “living a wonderful life,” until tragedy struck in 2012, he said. “It was a car accident. Nobody to blame, just a random accident. I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of it, but that was a fool’s errand.” Finn said he “sort of gave up after that for awhile…a long while.” He has friends in the area and he began to put his life back together in 2016. He worked remotely in the field of predictive analytics for a startup company, as a freelance writer focusing on explaining the mathematics behind everyday life.

“Then the bottom fell out” when the pandemic hit. The founder of his company passed away due to complications from the virus, and the company closed. Finn lived off his savings while pursuing back pay from the company until he could no longer afford to make rent. He was on the verge of homelessness.

Finn reached out to the Durango Community Shelter (DCS) in late January. Finn states that he “called almost as an afterthought. I heard they were operating at reduced capacity because of the pandemic, and did not have any space. I really did not have a plan B.” Finn was unaware that the Durango Community Shelter maintains a bed for veterans, and he moved in the following day.

With a safe place to stay, Finn began to pick up the pieces. He says it is difficult to explain but after the events of 2012, “I became self-destructive, and while I broke out of that cycle, I really had not addressed it in a healthy manner.” The shelter has given “me the opportunity to do that.”

Finn has since entered the Volunteers of America’s (VOA) Veteran Grant Per Diem program. He meets weekly with the VOA Veteran Case Manager, and is formulating a path forward. Relying on his educational training in predictive analytics and his love of writing, he has sold two articles in the past week. His goal is to stabilize his financial, emotional and mental health. He credits the DCS “staff and the shelter” for making this possible. The staff “is a small group of really amazing people who genuinely care for the residents” and make it easier for the residents to take the necessary steps forward. The shelter provides a safe and secure environment for that growth. “The Durango Community Shelter is an incredible resource of which the entire community should be proud.”

*Note: Name changed to protect confidentiality

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