Danny moved to Austin in 1982 to pursue a life of music. From a young age, he loved music, and by high school, has was part of a band with friends and even had a booking agent for local concerts. He loved Austin and its music scene from the day he arrived.
But in 2005, Danny was visiting Baytown, Texas, and was involved in a serious accident during Hurricane Katrina. The accident left him badly injured.
“I tried to recover and thought it might only take a week or two, but I was dead wrong. I tried to find opportunities to work, but my body just did not cut it anymore,” said Danny.
Without the ability to work, Danny lost stable housing and became homeless. Danny’s story is all too common for the people we serve – homelessness often begins with a crisis, injury, or illness that impacts a person’s ability to work and earn an income.
Surviving Without a Home
During his three years of homelessness, Danny became extremely depressed and saw no way out of his situation. He tried to take his life multiple times and spent significant time in psychiatric care. He had lost hope for the future.
“After I got out of the psychiatric hospital each time, I went downtown and tried to figure out how to survive,” he remembers. He says he tried and tried to figure out how to change his situation, both physically and mentally. He was eventually connected to one of Caritas of Austin’s housing programs, and thanks to your generosity, Danny was able to move into his very own apartment.
“I have a home now, thank you Lord. When I first walked into my apartment, it was overwhelming to me. I had learned to exist in a homeless situation where you have no safe place and you can’t accumulate anything without it being stolen. I had to relearn what it was like to have a home,” said Danny.
Building A Foundation of Wellbeing
Danny said it’s been a beautiful change to have a home and to feel part of the Austin community again. He loves interacting with his neighbors and having the stability to support others. He also loves the small conveniences a home brings with it.
“You can eat what you want to, when you want to. You can make a cup of coffee if you want to, when you want to.”
Because of you, Caritas of Austin is able to uniquely build wellbeing for Danny in the areas he needs. He said having someone listen to him and support him is priceless.
“Caritas of Austin has helped me in so many ways; it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. They deeply care about my wellbeing – physically, mentally, socially, even spiritually. They let me drive my goals, but they are there to help make achieving them possible. Every person is different, and each person has their needs. I respect the way Caritas of Austin looks at each individual person – they don’t want to run your life; they want to help you live it to the fullest.”
A Community of Support
Though Danny has regained stability and health in many ways since having a home, the Caritas of Austin team has also been there to support him during some of his most difficult times in recent years. In 2015, Danny suffered a stroke that nearly left him without the ability to speak.
“When I first woke up from the stroke, I could not speak. Over months, it has come back to me very slowly. I’ve found recovery is not easy, but the more I worked on it, the more I could regain skills.”
Danny is now using his time, voice, and skills to improve the community he loves and to help others build wellbeing in their lives. He is actively involved in local task force groups focused on addressing homelessness. His own lived experienced with homelessness gives him a unique perspective on solutions for helping others.
Danny has also taken his lifelong love of music and created a weekly music jam session at his apartment complex. The music group began after Danny’s stroke as a way to help him recover and reconnect with hobbies and friends. Anyone is welcome to join the music jam each week, and the group brings a variety of instruments and plays together every Friday afternoon.
Danny said he can think back to his early years in Austin and how he once supported Caritas of Austin himself, long before he ever needed our support.
“Caritas of Austin has been around for so many years. Back in the 1980s, we helped provide food to Caritas of Austin. Little did I know I might need services from this organization someday. Twenty five years later, they are there for me personally.”
Today, Danny feels grateful for all he has and where his life is headed, thanks to you.
“My future’s is up to me. It’s looking real good if I put forward the effort, then the sky is the limit for me. Even though I understand my physical limitations, I now have a belief that I can do things in life. It’s a struggle to do it, but the rewards are worth it. Caritas of Austin is so consistent – they are always there.”