Randall Winter served our country in the Navy from 1980-1986. He was a personnel man on the destroyer the USS John King, “one of the few destroyers to be named after an enlisted man” he told me. He came from a military family and grew up in Greenbrier and Conway after his father left the Air Force. He joined the Navy after completing his Associate degree in History.
Randall worked at a variety of jobs after leaving the service and until last year had never been unemployed. “I was working as an independent case manager for adults with developmental disabilities, but the last person on my caseload moved, and I lost my job. Within two weeks, my landlord sold the house I was renting. Suddenly at fifty-seven years old, I became unemployed and homeless.”
Randall stayed at Hope Home in Conway while looking for other options. It looked like Little Rock offered more opportunities, so Hope Cottage helped him find a place here. “They got me into Nehemiah House, and they were great. They let me stay even though I didn’t have the problems they address. I did meet with one of their counselors for a while as part of their program, and it helped. I was feeling like a failure, and it’s embarrassing being n this situation. It was traumatic for me; I’d always been self-sufficient. He helped me realize that you’re not a failure when bad things happen in your life. “
While at Nehemiah House he also began to look into VA services. One Monday he went to the Day Treatment Center, “and by Wednesday I was at St. Francis House”.
“I wish I had tapped into the VA services immediately, but since it wasn’t military related. I didn’t think of it. For any fellow Veterans out there, don’t be afraid to seek out benefits, you served your country, and there are lots of good people out there who care. Everyone treated me with dignity and respect, so there’s no need to be embarrassed or afraid. St. Francis House has been a great experience, especially because it’s all fellow Vets. We share a common denominator, and I found mutual respect here that I didn’t find in other shelters simply because there wasn’t the military in common.”
Randall is looking for employment through the Re-Integration program at St. Francis House and his caseworker at the Veterans’ Day Treatment Center. His next goal will be to find housing here in Little Rock and then “I want to give back. I’ve always found that when you’re giving, you feel best, and now I’m more appreciative having been on the receiving end; it makes me want to give back even more. “
Thank you for your service Randall we’re glad you here at St. Francis House!