In 2016, Project Renewal was selected by the New York City Department of Homeless Services to operate the East Williamsburg Men’s Shelter— Brooklyn’s only shelter dedicated to serving single men age 55 and older.
Our staff helps clients, like Anthony, cope with substance use disorders and mental illness and, ultimately, find jobs and permanent homes. “As soon as I got here, things started opening up for me,” Anthony says, when describing his arrival at East Williamsburg.
Anthony’s outlook wasn’t always so positive. His life spiraled out of control when his wife of more than 30 years died. “Losing her made me sink into substance abuse,” he recalls. “I wanted to give up.”
Anthony lost his job as a mental hygiene therapist and did time at Rikers for a drug-related offense. Upon his release, he was sent to a homeless shelter that he feels was not responsive to his needs. He worried about relapsing, ending up back in jail, or worse.
Everything changed when he moved to East Williamsburg last year. Our occupational therapist, Patricia—who Anthony describes as “a rock”—helped him build life skills and accountability. Our vocational staff connected him to a Certified Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor certification program.
“I’m loving my classes,” he says. “I want to turn my negative experiences into a positive, by helping others who are going through the same thing.” In June, he will finish his coursework and begin an internship.
“There’s no drama at this shelter. They just want to help you get back on your feet,” Anthony says. “My goal is to get my own apartment, stand on my own, and live life on life’s terms.”