St. Francis House is a Good Place

Jeffery Ritz grew up in Pennsylvania and joined the Army in 1974. was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Polk, Louisiana and worked in food service. A very quiet and reserved man, Mr. Ritz doesn’t like to talk much. “I’m sober, no drugs, and staying away from people makes it easier to stay that way.” So we were surprised when he agreed to an interview. “Well, I’m surprised too,” he chuckled.

After leaving the military Mr. Ritz worked as a carpenter. “I did custom work for everything from high end businesses like restaurants and nightclubs  to cabinetry in expensive houses, even luxury boats, I was good at what I did; in fact I got a lot of calls to come in and fix work that had been done improperly.”

He continued. “I don’t have any family here. We came over in the 1640s and the family is scattered all over the east coast. A lot of them are in Florida. But I came to Arkansas to be with friends about two years ago. I have a lot of health  problems. and I was on medication for liver disease and diabetes and I started losing my eyesight . I didn’t get anything checked and I eventually was completely blind. The friend I was living with died and I lost my home. And I was stranded here since I couldn’t drive. I was off all my medications for a while, while I stayed with another friend. Eventually I became completely blind. And my brain isn’t working quite right anymore. I was blind, but I was hallucinating. I couldn’t see anything else, but I could see those things perfectly. I lost time: I think I went nuts for a little while. I went to the VA in Malvern and then to Fort Roots. They fixed my eyes and got me back on my medications. I’ve been drinking and doing drugs for pretty much my whole life, but I’ve quit all that now. I’m working with VA on my health problems. I’ve lost a lot of weight and they don’t know why so they’re doing tests to rule out cancer. I’m working on getting a place to live away from Little Rock, probably more around Hot Springs or Malvern. Little Rock has too many people for me. And though I’m ready to be on my own, St. Francis House is a good place.”