Stories from the Heart: One man's recovery journey

If you talk to anyone who has lived in Tim's House, they're likely to mention it feels like a nice home, in a reasonable neighborhood, and is comfortable for five or six men to share and not feel packed in.

Current resident, Marcus, says Tim's House is a beautiful facility with reasonable rent and "good people with good hearts" running it. Marcus, who asked that we only use his first name, joined Tim's House three months ago after successfully completing the Free At Last recovery program, and joining the San Mateo Service League Transition Program at Tim's House.

"It's hard to have a purpose in life, and a chance at recovery when you don't have a place to lay your head at night. You really can't attempt any of that," Marcus said.

Because of his residency at Tim's House, he is able to work a job at Safeway and attend 12 step meetings online. Before coming to Tim's House, Marcus was living on the streets, and his job at True Kitchen in Palo Alto ended when the restaurant closed due to COVID-19.

The Shelter-In-Place rules and recent curfews have caused Marcus to feel isolated.  

"It seems the whole world got wiped away and I can't wait to get to see everyone out again."

He does worry that the more people get out, the more the virus will spread though. Marcus recently lost his grandmother to COVID-19, so he' is very aware of what is at stake. For himself, he feels if he's "meant to get it [COVID-19]"  he'll deal with it.

Marcus shared some of his experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent murder of George Floyd, who died after police kneeled on his neck for seven minutes while arresting him for attempting to use a counterfeit bill.

The feeling of isolation is proving hard on a social person like Marcus. He was raised in a military family and lived abroad for many years, including in Japan, where he found people to be friendlier and more communicative.  

Artist Sharon Hunt's rendering of Tim's House in Redwood City.

He enjoys connecting with people with a smile, simple greetings, chatting. These are all things he's missing when he goes to work and sees empty streets and stores. Having physical contact, and doing things with friends just can't be replaced by talking on the phone or meeting online.  

Even 12 step meetings lose effectiveness when online; "it feels like people are just talking and not communicating with one another."  

He's not as compelled to share his own thoughts and experiences during online meetings. Fortunately the men at Tim's House are supportive of each other and with everyone focused on recovery, they can lean on and talk with one another.  

Like all of us, Marcus hears about the George Floyd protests, riots and looting on the news. Yet he doesn't see all of that happening around him, aside from some businesses boarding up in anticipation of looting.  

There doesn't seem to be a need for a curfew around where he lives and works. He's very matter of fact when speaking about racial injustices, saying "it's sad, but racism exists and it's been that way for a long time."  People who have felt frustrated for a while are focusing all of their pent-up anger into the current situation.  

Marcus does have hope that things can and will change. It's going to take people opening up and noticing that everyone has something to offer.  

"I might have something you don't have, and you might have something I need, and if we get together we'll both benefit," he said.

Hopefully, as things open up more, Marcus will be able to interact with people again, and help make those connections happen. Until then, focusing on his recovery and working keeps him busy.

The Foundation provides an annual grant to the San Mateo Service League to fund the operation of Tim's House, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you.

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