We haven’t known Hugh for very long. That’s because once he came to St. Francis House, he immediately showed us he was determined to make things better. Employment coordinator Carol Chastine, describes him as “a positive attitude combined with perseverance”. And yet Hugh doesn’t see himself that way. He describes it as being “all about God”.
Hugh served in the Air Force from 1984-1988 as an air freight operator. After he left the military, he spent several years working as an airline contractor both in the United States and as far away as Uganda and Kenya. He eventually became an independent businessman, opening a variety of businesses including restaurant and a cleaning service.
A strong Christian, during this time Hugh also became an ordained Baptist minister. Hugh has three children, all college graduates and today his oldest son is a captain in the Air Force, his daughter a teacher in Virginia and his youngest son works for Nationwide insurance. You can see the pride in his face when he speaks of them and the grin grows even bigger when he talks about his grand-baby.
Success doesn’t always last however. After a large theft by a business partner, Hugh lost everything. He became depressed and attempted suicide. He sought help from the VA in Memphis and was referred to Woodland Research facility. Even though he didn’t really meet their criteria for treatment, they allowed Hugh to stay for ten days. It was then he realized that though materially successful, he had felt empty inside for quite a while. “It’s a hard thing for someone who‘s a minister of God to realize that he has drifted away from his relationship with God. It took losing everything for me to notice”.
He was told about the resources for Veterans in Little Rock, and the facility gave him the money to get here upon his release. “I went to the VA Day Treatment Center, and they were so kind and helpful. They referred me to St. Francis House and the people here have been great. God has led me to the right places all along the way”.
But as Hugh tells it, the “God things” didn’t stop there. He began immediately looking for work and had inquired at Fuller and Sons about positions only to be told they had no openings. On his way to an interview with another company, Hugh got a call from Mr. Fuller saying he’d like to talk to him. Hugh went straight from one interview to another and was hired by Fuller and Son that day.
Hugh has great to things to say about the company. “The people treat you with respect and value what I do. I love working here.” That admiration goes both ways. In speaking with JR Fuller, he stated, “Hugh is a doing very well. He’s a wonderful employee always finding things to do to keep busy and always trying to excel.”
Hugh has also rekindled his relationship with God. He now attends greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church and presides under Pastor JJ. Richardson Jr.
We’ve seen how hard Hugh works, his upbeat attitude and his true humility. All Hugh has to say is that “It’s all God”.