“Once I got my place, I took off my shoes finally.”
After spending 8 months living outside during the dead of winter and having caught frostbite, 21-year-old David Wilson couldn’t wait for a place to call home. And thanks to United Way donors, David now has somewhere to lay his head, kick off his sneakers, and focus on what’s next.
As a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University on a football scholarship, homelessness was never part of David’s plan. But after getting into trouble, he got kicked out of the dorms. He says he continued going to classes because he was able to stay with friends off campus, but when school ended he had nowhere to turn. Unable to afford a ticket back home to his family in New Jersey, he ended up on the streets.
“When I was outside I stayed in an abandoned house. I was there for 3 months, caught frostbite, and I couldn’t take off my shoes. I couldn’t shower, I couldn’t heal.”
David went to jail for trespassing and when he was released he walked into United Way partner organization Youth Continuum. He had nothing on him–no change of clothes, no money, no job, and nowhere to stay. Youth Continuum was able to help David with those basic needs and another United Way partner, The Connection, Inc., helped him find an apartment in West Haven.
Over the past two years, United Way and its partners in the Coordinated Access Network have housed 132 homeless youth, ages 18-24. This incredible progress was spurred by the statewide goal to end youth homelessness by the end of 2020. We are committed to reaching this goal, but we can only do it with the help of United Way partners and donors.
David’s next step is finding a job so he can get a car, and get back to school. He wants to pick up where he left off with his business degree.
Now he shares his own story to advocate for other homeless young people in our region. David has helped with the annual count of all the youth living on the streets, and he’s been to city hall meetings to fight for others who are in his situation.
His message for anyone in the middle of the struggle now?
“This isn’t forever, that’s what I would say, I’d say this isn’t forever. It seems like forever, but it’s not going to be forever.”