“It was the Happiest Day of my Life!”
April 20, 2023
That’s how Kirk describes the day he received his motorized wheelchair from RHD’s Street2Feet (S2F) Outreach Center in Stroudsburg, PA. Kirk is a 63-year-old homeless man, and in 2017, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, an inherited disorder that causes neurons in the brain to gradually break down and die. Persons with Huntington’s disease experience a gradual loss of control over their movements, speech, and mental facilities. Currently, there is no cure.
In November of 2022, Kirk started coming to the S2F program to access resources not available to him as a homeless person. At that time, he was using a broken walker to get around. The S2F staff became especially concerned after Kirk was hit by a car while using his walker out in the neighborhood. Fortunately, he did not sustain serious injuries, but they knew they needed to find another, safer way for Kirk to get around.
“This is a good place,” Kirk shared about S2F. “They never give up on you.”
S2F is the only day shelter and outreach program for adults who are homeless or facing homelessness in Monroe County. They provide a variety of services, including case management, linkage to mental health and drug and alcohol services, medical and dental clinics, and vocational support.
In January of this year, Alice Montes – a student at East Stroudsburg University – began an internship at S2F. Once she met Kirk, she immediately knew that she wanted to find a way to help him. She consulted with her college advisor and reached out to different organizations before contacting the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, which donated a motorized wheelchair for Kirk.
After securing this generous donation, Alice and the S2F staff presented Kirk with his new wheelchair this past February. The staff celebrated Kirk as he accepted his new chair that will now give him more independence than he’s had for quite some time. Soon, everyone started covering the wheelchair in reflective tape to make sure Kirk can always be seen by drivers and pedestrians.
“There were unbridled tears in my eyes to see how happy everyone was for Kirk,” says S2F director Leslie Perryman. Alice shares, “It makes me happy to see that the wheelchair has impacted his life so positively. He’s more independent. And he’s always telling me that he’s grateful.”
“This was a life-changing gift that they gave me,” Kirk shared. And, he noted with enthusiasm, “I’m on Facebook!”
Kirk has mastered the use of his wheelchair and is now able to easily travel around town, from the Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church’s winter shelter to the Salvation Army that provides his meals to S2F.
S2F has worked hard to find assisted living housing for Kirk. In partnership with the Pastor of Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church, they are coordinating with the Monroe County Area Agency on Aging on these efforts. The S2F staff notes, it really does take a village to help the most vulnerable members of a community.
Despite the struggles and hardships in his life, Kirk is extremely grateful for the care and attention he receives at S2F. At the conclusion of the interview for this piece, he offered a handshake and hug to the interviewer. His warmth and ebullience are apparent.
“I’m blessed for sure to be here,” he shares.
S2F needs your support to continue providing vital, life-saving services to people experiencing homelessness. To donate, and learn more about Street2Feet, go to www.rhd.org/street2feet.