Stories of Hope

Mayor of Apponaug

When I first came to House of Hope CDC, I was tired of living on the streets and wanted to turn my life around. I’m the guy you’ve probably heard of who six years ago was crushed by a garbage truck when the dumpster I was sleeping in was emptied in before I could scream for help. I was a broken man – physically and emotionally. But I knew I couldn’t go back to the life I was living, so I took all the steps needed to survive – I went through the emergency shelter, I moved into a supportive housing program called Conway at House of Hope, and eventually I moved into my own apartment thanks to House of Hope CDC. Living at the Thomas Wilbur Homestead, part of House of Hope’s permanent housing, has changed my life. The property is beautiful. We cook for ourselves, clean for ourselves, and have our own space. I feel like I am on my own. It’s a little scary; it’s a lot of trust. But we still have an amazing support system.  I have purpose in life and look forward to each day. I take pride in my apartment, but also in my neighborhood. Come by – you’ll probably see me out there raking, shoveling, watering the plants, sweeping the sidewalk, chatting with neighbors while I help unload their groceries, or walking to local shops. Every year I put up all of the holiday decorations and Christmas lights.   Earlier this year, I got a letter of thanks from the Apponaug Area Improvement Association thanking me for what I do to keep... read more

Manny’s Story

A popular bartender in Providence for over 20 years, Manny Gomes’ life was changed when a car crash left his leg badly damaged. During recovery, he took oxycodone for the pain and turned to heroin when his prescriptions ran out. A quick downward spiral left Manny living on the streets until one cold night in 2005. Sleeping in a dumpster, Manny woke to the rumbling sound of his dumpster being emptied into a refuse truck. Manny called for help as the truck broke bones and puncture a lung.  After a three month stay in the hospital, Manny returned to the streets until a friend told him about House of Hope. After an interview with the former executive director, Jean Johnson, Manny was offered an apartment at the Fran Conway House, on of House of Hope’s affordable housing buildings, and was able to qualify for disability and enroll in methadone treatment. Manny moved into permanent housing and kept busy doing landscaping and helping neighbors. He did so much for his community that he had become known as the Mayor of Apponaug. Manny also served on the Board of Directors for House of Hope. On November 28, 2016, after a long battle with Cancer, Manny peacefully passed away at Kent County Hospital. He is sadly missed by many.  ... read more

Families in Housing

The Allens* Family came to House of Hope CDC from a family shelter and have been living in one of our permanent supportive housing single-family homes. With two deaf parents and 7 children, they have a variety of needs that our Family Case Worker and Youth Coordinator have worked to address. From navigating the public school system, to ensuring health and safety and financial security, our staff have been the support system this family needed to be successful in housing and as members of their community. The Allens’ recently welcomed their 7th baby to the family and while mom had previously experienced significantly high risk pregnancies, his baby was the healthiest at birth of all the Allens children- a direct result, mom says, of the stability of housing. Sarah*, a disabled woman who uses a wheelchair was housed at our Thomas Wilbur Homestead in 2010 and has been healthy and happy since. Thanks to our family supportive housing, her adult son is able to live with her and help care for her- eliminating the need for institutional care or expensive in-home care and the risk of future homelessness for this family. They even recently welcomed a puppy to their family. Marion Brooks, who became homeless 9 years ago, looks back with some satisfaction at what she and her children have achieved since then. Her daughter Tiffany, now 24, was born with Down syndrome. After graduating from Pilgrim High School and picking up several gold medals in the Special Olympics, she has a cleaning job at the Navy complex in Newport. Stephen, 20, won honors for his senior project at... read more

Carleton’s Story

Carleton Freese grew up in Rhode Island and studied music at URI. After school he had a successful career in entertainment. By 2002 he was making good money and saving for retirement. The onset of an inherited disease attacking his heart disrupts his plans for the future. He lost his job, insurance, and eventually his apartment before more diagnoses reveal cancer, diabetes, and the looming necessity of a heart transplant. Two huge factors stand between Carleton and his new heart: cancer and the lack of a stable home.   House of Hope worked with Carleton and offered him an apartment in the Fran Conway House. This stable home allowed him to be able to get the treatments he needed and saved his life. After overcoming cancer and moving into his apartment, Carleton was able to get his heart transplant.   Today, Carleton enjoys using his gift for public speaking to raise awareness about homelessness in Rhode Island. He speaks for Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless and shares House of Hope’s goal to end homelessness in Rhode Island.... read more

Deb’s Story

After losing her father when she was 5, Deb Baker’s childhood only got worse. Alleged “friends” of her father’s and her mother’s new boyfriend raped her throughout her childhood until she moved out. She finished high school and got a job at a donut shop. After the loss of her one year old nephew, she lost her job, got into alcohol and drugs, and got involved in illegal activities. She would get arrested and feel happy about it, knowing that she would have somewhere to sleep other than a car or a basement.   A work release agreement as a janitor brought Deb to House of Hope’s tiny shelter on Shippen Avenue. This opportunity with House of Hope encouraged Deb, but not enough to help her yet. When her sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Deb decided she had to get back on her feet. After being released from her latest stay at the Adult Correctional Institution, Deb was chosen for a permanent apartment.   Jean Johnson had confirmed that she was a good candidate for one of the Wheeler House’s five apartments. For Deb, this was her opportunity to get back on her feet and to be successful on her own. This milestone in Deb’s life wouldn’t have been possible without the help of House of Hope. Supportive housing helped Deb find a place to call home, and now it is a place that she can maintain on her own. Deb appreciates what they have done for her so much and does everything she can to give back.  “They are little acts of love, to show them... read more

Bob’s Story

Bob lived in Harrington Hall since 2010.  He was diagnosed with Depression and Bipolar disorder in the 90’s and received SSI benefits because of these disorders.  Bob mostly kept to himself while at Harrington Hall and didn’t participate much in case management.   He told me during the day there weren’t many places he could be at and didn’t like the downtown Providence area because there was too much trouble, so he would often go to Garden City. He would buy lunch in order to be able to stay and not be kicked out.  He stated a lot of his monthly income was spent just doing that.  Bob doesn’t appear to have any drug or alcohol issues and didn’t enjoy being around people who suffered from addictions.   In January of 2014, I met Bob and approached him about the ACCESS to HOPE program.  At first he was hesitant because he didn’t want to have a roommate, didn’t want to live in Providence and some other surrounding cities.  I asked him where he would like to live if he could live anywhere in Rhode Island, “Narragansett” he stated.  I let the Property Manager know this and they started to look for a place in this area.  Bob grew up in this area, loves the beach and loves to bike ride.   House of Hope Property Management located an apartment in Narragansett and I brought Bob to go see it, he loved it right away.  Bob moved in on February 28, 2014.  At first I met with Bob weekly to make sure he was adjusting to living out there on... read more

Fred’s Story

Fred moved into a three-bedroom apartment at the end of February 2014.   Fred had lived at Harrington Hall for over a year, and for the last several months worked full time at a warehouse leaving the shelter by 5am to get to work on time.   Fred has had some substance abuse history, stopped using cocaine/crack in 2006 but has struggled with alcohol ever since. He has had years of sobriety at one time but more recently, relapses every few months or so which often jeopardizes his employment.   Fred relapsed on alcohol soon after he moved into housing.  Fred moved into his apartment first and didn’t have roommates for about a month or so.  He reported that he “missed the shelter” and struggled with those feelings because he thought they were silly.  He said even though he didn’t speak to many people there he knew people were still around and it was comforting.   Fred detoxed himself and got back on track and was able to talk his employer into keeping him.  Fred felt since this detox was so difficult, that would keep him away from relapsing again.  Fred was not interested in counseling or seeing a doctor and felt he could keep himself sober based on how horrible he felt while detoxing.   Fred reported feeling better, he got roommates and they seemed to get along pretty well.  After about six weeks, Fred relapsed again for about 1 week.  This time, Fred wasn’t so lucky had his employer let him go.   His two roommates, very concerned about his well being, asked to speak to him... read more

Ted’s Story

Ted had been homeless for almost 4 years before he was placed in a 3-bedroom apartment in Providence April 1, 2014.   I met Ted at Harrington Hall in January, he had long straggly hair, hadn’t shaved in quite sometime and answered questions with “Yes” or “No” without much other dialog.  Ted was hesitant when I approached him about ACCESS to HOPE but eventually agreed to fill out an application and get the process going.   One obvious feature on Ted when someone saw him was a protruding hernia that he had for over 20 years.  When I asked him if he would like me to help him connect to services for the surgery he stated, “No, a lot can happen when you are put under for surgery”.  Ted self reports that he is schizophrenic and bipolar, two other areas he did not wish to address when I first met him at Harrington Hall.   Ted did not like the first apartment he saw; he felt it was “too modern”, however he loved the second one.  Ted had his first months rent, his security and money for his furniture all on the day of his move in.  At first I met with Ted and his two other roommates every week at their apartment.   One day Ted caught me off guard stating “I am having surgery for my hernia, the surgery will be soon”.  Ted took it upon himself to look into who would be best to do his surgery, getting the appointment and going to it himself.  The following week, Ted stated to me “I am having my... read more

Abby’s Story

Dear Friends, Ending homelessness is hard, but we know how to do it. For nearly a quarter of a century, House of Hope CDC has helped hundreds of women, men, and children find homes and reclaim their lives. Abby’s story is one example. DURING the worst years, Abby couldn’t have imagined being where she is now, cooking pumpkin muffins in her fastidiously neat apartment in the George Galen Wheeler House, opened last year in Warwick by House of Hope. The contrast with the long period when she slept in basements and vacant houses still haunts her. “I was considered a disposable person, a throwaway person,” Abby says. NO ONE is born to be homeless. Abby was 5 when her father, a policeman, died of cancer. She, her brother, and sister were often left alone by their mother. Men would come by and take little Abby for “rides.” When she was 12, a man living with her mother began sexually abusing her. After four years, Abby found the courage to tell her mother. You’re a liar, her mother said. She moved in with a high school friend. After graduation, a promising career as a restaurant manager soured quickly. She befriended the wrong people; drank and took drugs; and lost one job after another. Disastrously, she turned to stealing, for example, posing as a doughnut store supervisor, and then leaving with the receipts. She always got caught, and she felt relieved to be back in prison. But when her term ended, the cycle began again. ABBY came to House of Hope during a prison work release job. Right away, she realized... read more


Marion Brooks and her family were evicted shortly after she divorced her husband of 19 years. Following the eviction, Marion and her two children spent several holidays at the Rhode Island Family Shelter in Warwick. They faced repulsed looks from onlookers at the bus stop, work, and school. “When they found out we were homeless, they didn’t want anything to do with us. We lived in the shelter.”   With the help of House of Hope, Marion found an apartment, and her kids were able to become involved in school through House of Hope’s Youth Rap program. Youth Rap took them seal watching in Narragansett Bay and to the Boston science museum. The program also helped pay for her son Stephen’s little league fees and for her daughter Tiffany’s prom dress. Youth Rap provided Marion’s children with the support they needed.   Tiffany Brooks, now 24, graduated from Pilgrim High School in Warwick and won several gold medals in the Special Olympics. Stephen Brooks, 20, is a versatile athlete and a tech-savvy “nerd.” He won honors for his senior project at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School in which he envisioned placing solar panels at the Apponaug fire station. He will be graduating from the New England Institute of Technology in the spring of 2015. Marion Brooks is proud of her children and what they have achieved with the help and support from House of Hope.... read more