Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Success Story of LIFT Bike Project Recipient

Bill earned a bike from the LIFT Bike Project in the spring of 2011.

After working over 25 years in the hospitality industry and working his way up to managerial positions, Bill Viera was laid off from his hotel job in 2007.  He lived off of his savings for three years and struggled to find work, and he was eventually forced into a homeless shelter. With the help of a long-term advocate, Bill was able to turn his life around with a new job with a local retailer, better healthcare, and renewed optimism about finding a permanent home.

Living in the shelter, Bill continued volunteering as a cook for residents to maintain his skills.  The shelter referred Bill to LIFT, and Bill’s advocate Brittni worked with him to first find employment so that he could save up for permanent housing.  LIFT worked with Bill to create a resume, prepare for interviews, and improve his computer proficiency, and also linked him to free interview attire and computer classes.  Brittni  quickly realized that Bill's dental and heart issues were preventing him from securing employment, both physically and in employers’ perceptions of him.  She says, "Bill's teeth were literally rotting out of his head.  While we worked to resolve Bill’s insurance issues, we looked into Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, which offers free health care for homeless individuals. We were able to set him up with a regular primary care physician as well as a dentist."  The dentist extracted his rotten teeth and made plans to fit him for dentures.  Eventually LIFT was able to not only resolve his insurance issues, but upgrade his coverage package, in addition to setting personal health and weight loss goals that have enabled Bill to enjoy the new bicycle he received from LIFT.

Of his journey, Bill says, "Other organizations would maybe do an orientation with me then send me on my way. LIFT had a more hands-on and personal approach.  I was in a spiral when I first came in, but immediately after working with LIFT I was calmer. My advocate didn’t let me get down or depressed, and she assured me success would happen. Most importantly, LIFT made me feel important and I wasn’t feeling that way at the time when I first came in.  Now, I love my job. Interacting with people is just amazing.  I am so much happier, I smile a lot more. I see myself managing the store, volunteering, and teaching.  I see myself housed.  Now that I’ve been homeless, I really want to help more because there is a need for more voices out there for the homeless."

Source: http://www.liftcommunities.org/boston/our-work/clients/item/498-bill-viera

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