Homeless Sioux City man: "I want to be a successful, complete person"
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Life has many twists and turns, and sometimes those unexpected moments bring us somewhere we've never been before. For 60-year-old Thomas Kramer, life's obstacles led to homelessness in September.
"When you're homeless and out of work or when you're just out of work, you know it's not very long before you become homeless,” said Thomas Kramer. “But when you're both at the same time, you have very little time. There is no preparation. Here you go. Here you go."
Thomas says he lost his job after his diabetes led to cataracts that prevented him from attending work.
"If you can imagine moving into any community, sleeping in a bed in a room full of strangers, it's quite an experience," said Thomas.
Now he's gone from one daily schedule to another.
In order to stay at the shelter, there are rules he must follow.
Thomas and other residents of the shelter wake up at 5 a.m., have breakfast, and then take care of their morning chores.
"You can't take and take. You have to give something back,” said Gospel Mission resident Mike Kaufman. “And if you're not giving back, it's kind of pointless. That goes for life I suppose. If you're constantly taking, you're never going to get anything out of it."
For Thomas, remaining homeless is not an option.
"Great experiences, change is coming," said Thomas. "And new experience, change, starting over again."
He enjoys staying busy.
"God bless. Have a great day."
Even though the shelter doesn't require it, Thomas works part time, taking on different local manual labor jobs.
But Thomas has not always been in the positive place he is today.
Thomas was an alcoholic at a very young age.
He says that's what ended his marriage 20 years ago, and along with his jobs that required him to move around a lot, he started growing apart from his three children as well.
The last time he saw his family was seven years ago.
"There are broken people here," said Gospel Mission director of men's ministries Dayle Webbs.
There were 297 homeless individuals in Sioux City in January 2014 according to the Point in Time Count.
That's an increase of 31 people from the year before.
But homeless individuals say they don't want people to misunderstand their situation and view them as a statistic.
"People say you're homeless,” said Gospel Mission resident Alan McCurdy. “So? I'm happy."
Along with chores and different volunteering options, the Gospel Mission also provides church services and life classes to get people on the right path.
"I'll use the illustration of a doctor or a lawyer or a judge or a police officer,” said Webbs. “Whatever you want it to be, don't lose sight of that dream. Go back. Dare to dream."
Thomas dares to dream.
"I want to be a successful and complete person,” said Thomas. “I just want to live well as everybody wants to live well, and be well and to leave this world a happy person."