Journey Stories: Voices of Success

When you struggle with life’s basics, it can be hard to find inspiration to keep you moving. But there are people just like you using the Open Access Connections service and celebrating little successes every day. Here are some of their stories.

Brian’s Story
Brian Sullivan was homeless for a year and a half before he found out about Open Access Connections. He was living in his car or sleeping on the ground. He had a tent, but someone slashed it with a knife on a rainy day, ruining most of his belongings.

One day, a friend asked for a ride to a meeting, which turned out to be a meeting of the Open Access Connections 50+ Group. When the meeting was over, he went to the office and signed up for voice mail service. “This made a huge difference to me,” said Brian. “I was able to keep in contact with medical providers, St. Stephen’s Human Services Homeless Outreach, my case workers at Century Plaza, and friends who wanted to get a hold of me.”

Within four months, St. Stephen’s helped him secure transitional housing, and he was indoors for the first time in over a year. In addition, voice mail helped him to continue to earn income from his business – breeding and selling bearded dragon lizards to local pet stores. In Brian’s words: “Open Access Connections’ service and outreach is incredibly helpful to low income and homeless people.”

Brian is currently a member of the Open Access Connections board.

Sally’s Story
Sally had two daughters and lived with her abusive, alcoholic husband in Tennessee. He did not work. The family survived on Sally working two shifts a day at the local Subway. She dealt not only with working long hours and raising two kids, but the abuse was getting worse. Sally feared for their safety. Working with a women’s agency, she made plans for the girls to say with a friend. After the first shift, she would leave work, pick up her girls and take off for a women’s shelter in St. Paul. They would be safe. Hopefully, her husband would never know where they went.

The plan worked! Unfortunately, she found herself in a strange place living in a shelter with no job, no phone and no money. She met with a job counselor to get ideas on how to get a job that would support her family. She had limited experience, but often thought that she would like to work with a computer.

The job counselor helped her with clothes for an interview, put together a resume, arranged time on computers to practice typing and basic skills, and most importantly, gave Sally a voice mail number from Open Access Connections. Within six weeks, Sally had a job as an office assistant. It paid enough that she could also use her voice mail number to get messages from potential landlords and get her family into their own home.

Sally came back to her job counselor with a tear in her eye. She now had a cubicle with her own computer on her desk! She and her girls have their first home in Minnesota. None of it was possible without her voice mail number from Open Access Connections.

Ron’s Story
View Ron’s story video on his Main Street PlaceStories page.

We mourn the loss of our friend Ron Carter who produced this story video. Ron passed on March 31, 2010. This video was shown at his funeral.