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John Hitchcock wasn’t just down on his luck last November. Homeless and living out of his car, he woke up in the ER and learned he had a seizure and had been involved in a crash.
“I was devastated. My car was all I had and now it was gone,” he recalls. “I had hit rock bottom and felt like I wanted to commit suicide.”
Fortunately hospital employees reached out to Kar Woo, founder and executive director of Artists Helping the Homeless (AHH).
“Woo took me in when no one else would. He saved my life,” says Hitchcock, who was homeless and jobless due to alcohol addiction.
Artists Helping the Homeless offers housing and wrap-around support services to help chronic homeless persons overcome substance abuse and live healthy lives. Greater Kansas City LISC provided the organization with a $450,000 loan to purchase a building in midtown Kansas City, MO to operate what is known as Finnegan Place. This unique program supplies clean and sober housing with peer support for those that have completed recovery and are ready to reintegrate, but lack peer support, financial security or a clean housing, legal or credit record.
“Without LISC stepping up to help us with funding to purchase the apartment building, we wouldn’t have been able to help house and get people on their feet,” says Woo. “It allowed us to complete the continuum of care. We converted one apartment to a clinic that provides medical and dental care to everyone who comes through our doors.”
AHH is certainly making an impact. Thanks to the support he received from the program, Hitchcock recently gained the confidence to complete his master’s degree and is now working as a project manager at a local equipment company.
“I feel better,” he smiles. “I’m moving forward. Through counseling services, I’m able to deal with issues.”
Woo, who left Hong Kong at age 18 and came to the United States with only $50 in his pocket, says he founded the program because he’s been in the shoes of those he serves.
“I can totally understand what it means to be homeless and at-risk,” he confesses. “I tell them it’s ok to go through those experiences, just as long as you don’t give up.”
This message of hope has made all the difference to Hitchcock.
“With discipline, help and support, I was able to work on my mental health and substance abuse issues,” he says. “There’s light at the end of the corner. You just can’t give up and have to be willing to change.”
LISC’s investment in the purchase of Finnegan Place is an example of the organization’s commitment to supporting programs devoted to rebuilding lives in Kansas City urban neighborhoods. Other causes LISC has supported include the Upper Room Summer Reading Academy, Mattie Rhodes Cultural Arts Center, Children’s Campus of Kansas City, and the DeLaSalle Education Center. Click here to learn more.