Tyler never thought he would end up homeless, but when he got divorced after 10 years of marriage and subsequently turned to alcohol and drugs, that was exactly how he found himself. Being middle-aged, he didn’t like being on the streets, but found it was so easy to get lost in the black hole that is homelessness.
Tyler first started coming to Friendship House about five years ago to eat meals in the old community kitchen. He saw the residents who lived there and that they were making changes in their lives, and finally decided it was time to do something. He was in and out of Friendship House several times over the years, battling his addiction and struggling to remain sober.
The difference for Tyler came when Kristie Kaaland, the current Men’s House Manager, came to Friendship House.
“She gives you hope. She’ll take you in and give you clean pants and a shirt and shower. You feel like a million bucks!”
Tyler was also very helpful in the kitchen where he did his house chores.
“I really appreciated the accountability of cooking for the people who were still out on the streets. It was much more than just a chore for me,” Tyler says. He recalls a time he was serving a meal in the old kitchen alongside a volunteer, who complimented him on doing a great job.
“I told her I was just doing my chore, but she pointed out that I was greeting each person by name and welcoming them in to eat, and that that made a difference. Honestly, I remember what it was like to be out there on that ramp, hungry and waiting for a meal.”
Tyler found that doing the right legwork through Community Action and the other local social service agencies really helped him get back on his feet.
He joined Alcoholics Anonymous and found great support and comfort in the meetings. He soon found a job at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op and was housed at Oxford House, a recovery transitional home for men. He is still working and living there, attending AA meetings faithfully, and will celebrate two years clean and sober in April.
Tyler is a frequent visitor to Friendship House, often checking in on the staff that helped him and encouraging the men who live there.
“He’s a real cheerleader for the men,” says Kristie. “I always appreciate when he shows up because he really helps to boost morale in the house and is always encouraging the guys in their recovery.”