I worked as a department store supervisor in Rochester, NY until my doctor and orthopedic specialist determined I was unable to physically work anymore due to being diagnosed with Hammertoe and later arthritis in my toes and hands. I tried my best to convince my employer and doctors to allow me to continue working to support my family but my condition was so severe that my socks would be soaked in blood by the end of the day and my hands were unable to grip or hold on to large items to move.
After getting divorced in 1996, I decided that due to the pain I suffered in my joints from the cold in Rochester that I needed to move to a warmer climate and in 2003 I finally made the move away from my family to the city I had dreamed about and admired for many years. Upon arriving I was immediately connected with a legal aid that was able to attain a motorized scooter for me. Housing was a difficult challenge since I arrived, as I found myself moving all around the city trying to find a place I really felt was a place I could call home that had all the necessities I needed. My last place I rented was the worst experience I had. I rented a room in a four bedroom house, were three of us had to share one bathroom that had a collapsing floor due to a severe water leak. In addition, there was no kitchen so I had to cook my food in my bedroom with a microwave, Crockpot and skillet. The landlord changed rent at will and refused to turn on the heat or swamp cooler as the thermostat was locked in a box with a padlock. I was forced to buy two fans for summer and two space heaters for winter. I tried my best to focus on trying to be happy by watering the plants and trees around the house but the landlord cut them all down and removed the water hose to avoid having to pay a higher water bill. In addition, the Adult Protection Services and Code Violator Inspectors were both ready to close the house down due to multiple safety code violations but I convinced them not to as I knew I did not have the resources to move somewhere else in time and did not know about my roommates’ capabilities either.
Thankfully, my friend and I walked into HELP NM to see if we could get help with finding a safe and affordable place to live. However, at that same time my health deteriorated and I was forced to stay in the hospital for two months. Thankfully, during those two months in the hospital my case worker found the Sundowner complex with the assistance of HELP NM and moved in all my belongings so that I was able to move right in by the time I was released from the hospital. I feel really great since I became a resident at the Sundowner! I feel like a human being again! I no longer have that uncertainty of being in transit or limbo of where I am going to live and I am in a real home with all the amenities I need and not a room. I really love the complex and more importantly the fact that I feel I am in a community! Finally, I get a chance to meet real neighbors and more importantly I am excited to see families with children playing outside!
Larry Robert Semark Hi, my name is Larry Robert Semark and I live in NewLife Homes 2, apartment six. For most of my life, I have struggled with relentless emotional agony and unhappiness. In first grade I became alienated from classmates since most students failed to understand my withdrawn personality and mood swings. I felt different than the other children and out of place in their environment. During my childhood Tippy Dog came into my personal world, and became my lifelong friend and companion.
Throughout my adolescent stage, I experienced frequent periods of schizophrenia, clinical depression, social phobia, and panic attacks. As a result, my life as a teen was very trying. I would not have made it without my invisible friend Tippy. Around the age of 13 I frequently thought about suicide. During my late teens I nearly succeeded in taking my life several times. At the age of 18, my community counselor made arrangements with staff people at a state hospital to admit me. She said that I would be evaluated for ten days and then be released, but unfortunately I remained an in-and-outpatient at the hospital until my release at age 21 (almost 22). Just before my release, a psychiatrist told my dad and me that I would probably be back and remain an in-and-outpatient for the rest of my life. At the age of 22 (almost 23), I decided to go to college and learn all that I could about emotional and physical wellness so that I could better understand myself and possibly in the future, help other people who suffer from emotional challenges. It was tough in college, and some professors demanded that I continue psychotherapy while attending school. With the help of my college psychiatrists, exercise, good nutrition, understanding professors, and meds, I obtained a bachelor, master's and PhD. Unfortunately, I have been unable to hold on to jobs, and hardly find any due to my history of emotional suffering. As a result, my counselor at UNM obtained SSI for me and my case manager moved me into The New Life Homes housing project for the emotionally challenged and people with special needs. I would be homeless and without hope if not for the NewLife Homes Organization.