Former guest Sean becomes spokesperson for homelessness
“When you go from having everything to losing everything, you lose yourself.” This was part of the moving testimony former Haven shelter guest Sean gave before the Vermont House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs in January 2021.
“I always worked two to three jobs to maintain myself and be able to get the things I needed.” That changed in 2019 after a serious illness left Sean unable to work. He couldn’t pay rent and lost his apartment. “I never in a million years thought I would be homeless,” Sean continued. “I have to admit, I thought all homeless people were drug addicts and thieves—not like me—until I became homeless.”
A friend put Sean in touch with the Vermont Economic Services Division who connected him with the Haven. That’s where Sean met Community Service Coordinator Nancy Griffin, who was able to secure space for him in the Hixon House adult shelter. “When I entered Hixon House, I was lost,” Sean recalled. “I’m grateful for Haven staff like Nancy, telling me things would be OK and helping me find me housing.” Five months later, Sean moved into a subsidized apartment in Bethel.
“Sean is such an example of courage and resiliency,” says Nancy. After his illness when he couldn’t work, “his ego and self-worth took such a big hit, but he never gave up. He landed on his feet and is ready to find a different path in life.” When the Vermont House Committee was looking for someone to testify on homelessness, Nancy recommended Sean. “He really prepared and did a terrific job. He’s excited to become a spokesperson for homelessness.”
Sean left the committee with these words: “I can’t even express how I felt being homeless. People treated me like I was scum on the bottom of their shoe. I want people to take their time and get to know people who are homeless. It could be your mother, brother, or sister out there on the street because they lost that paycheck. I’m grateful I got to experience that and hope I never have to experience that again.” Sean concluded, “I would like people to be kinder to each other. More people need to be out there helping.”
A man who was once lost has a new direction and purpose, and we’re all better for that.
Watch Sean’s testimony (begins at 23:32)