At 53-years-old, Leonard didn’t think he would end up living on the streets. Originally from North Carolina, he had a family and a good job.
But in 2013, tragedy struck, and his wife passed away. Soon after, he lost his job and had nowhere to turn.
Looking for a fresh start, he moved to Florida because he heard that he could find work. He didn’t, so he started picking up scrap metal and selling it. That helped for awhile until his truck broke down. With no money for repairs, he could no longer find work and was forced onto the streets.
He’s been experiencing homelessness in Central Florida for awhile now, and because he’s not properly sheltered, his health is starting to deteriorate.
He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his knees aren’t as strong as they used to be because he has to walk so much. Leonard has tried to find a job, but because he has a criminal record, he’s had trouble getting hired.
“I’ve asked God to forgive me for my past, and I’ve forgiven myself,” Leonard said. “I want people to treat me as they want somebody to treat them.”
Through Leonard’s troubles and setbacks, he has hope that his situation will improve.
“Believing and trusting in God, no matter how bad things may look. I believe that through faith, he’s going to change my situation,” Leonard said when asked how he stays hopeful.
He also has a case manager that’s helping him. Once a month he sees a doctor and is on medication to treat his bipolar disorder.
Leonard hasn’t been housed yet, but once he is, having a home would mean the world to him.
“Being able to get rest where you aren’t walking the streets all day long,” Leonard said. “Just having that safety.”