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Artistically Inclined Client Looks Forward to Rejoining Workforce

Edward is 29-years-old, funny, interested in music, a vegan, and has been homeless for a year and a half.

Before moving to Virginia, Edward lived in New York and then Chicago. When his family relocated to the Northern Neck, he said it was a “culture shock” to be out in the country with little to do in comparison to big cities.

That is where his troubled relationship with the law began; between the ages of 15 and 18, he was sent to a juvenile detention center four times. Around that time, his mother passed away and he went to live with his father before deciding to attend the New York Institute of Audio Research, which he graduated from in 2009.

Because of the high cost of living in New York, Edward returned to Virginia and began working for a production company in Richmond where he assisted in stage set up, lighting, and audio management.

Despite his new beginning, Edward once more turned to drugs and was arrested. “I’m not going to blame anybody but myself. Getting out, I didn’t have a place to go. There’s a stigma that comes with drugs for your friends and family; they don’t know if they can trust you.”

Luckily, while incarcerated, Edward was connected with OAR of Richmond, which specializes in providing services for former offenders’ reentry into the community.

“OAR is a pretty great organization. They provide resources for you to build a resume and they conduct mock job interviews. They even have a bike program where they will teach you bicycle safety and maintenance and give you one in the end,” he explained.

Now that he is in our Men’s Emergency Shelter, Edward shared his thoughts on HomeAgain saying, “It’s really nice here. Everyone treats you with respect.”

He was proud to share that he has been clean for six months and hasn’t had “any interest in using since getting out.” Edward is planning to get a job in the city- hopefully at one of the local theaters, but he recognizes the difficulty of applying with a criminal record.

Despite this barrier, he is sure someone will give him a chance. “Whenever I hired people before with criminal records, they went above and beyond. You’ve got to judge people from their quality of work and not their past, “ he said.

As our Program Manager interrupted the interview to thank Edward for sharing his story, Edward stopped him- “No. Thank you for letting me be here.”

He continued, “A lot of people don’t know just how many people are really homeless. There are a lot of stereotypes, but contrary to what people think- not everyone who is homeless wants to be.”

When asked about his future goals, Edward says that he is looking forward to having a place of his own where he can play his music, watch his favorite movie The Fountain, and hang out with friends. He also plans to own his own production company (within the next three years) where he can intertwine his passion for the arts with his business skills.