Cape Girardeau, MO man goes from homeless to housed

Cape Girardeau, MO man goes from homeless to housed
Tommy Clark used to sleep at Capaha Park when he was homeless. Now he has a job and a roof over his head, and revisits the park to relieve stress.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - This winter has been freezing at times, but can you imagine not having a warm place to escape it? That was a reality for Tommy Clark who went from battling homelessness to now having a job and a roof over his head.

"I just hate being cold and hungry," Clark said. "I actually had to sneak into places to stay warm. Being out on the streets and not knowing where your next meal is going to come from or anything is hard. I went three days without eating once."

Clark was born and raised in Cape Girardeau, and moved back to Missouri six months ago.

After not having a place to stay during the winter months Clark was losing hope, until his sister and a friend told him about a small church offering food, shelter and assistance to the homeless.

"At first I didn't think the community cared about us," he said. "But then I found a group of people out there that did, and I met them at the People's Shelter. Oh God, it was a great experience from the day I got there. I was the very first guest there. That was January 10."

The People's Shelter, which was at St. James AME Church, has ceased housing the homeless until they relaunch what organizers are calling the 'Homeless Hospitality Center' this May.

Clark said organizations that collaborated with the shelter in Cape Girardeau are helping him get medicine he needs, connecting him with counselors and put him through vocational rehabilitation.

"They helped me get a job," Clark said. "I'm working with a job specialist with the Community Caring Council who is helping me get my disability back. From where I was at yes it is a big progress like I said without their help I really and truthfully don't think I would be here right now."

One of the places Clark used to sleep was at Capaha Park, which he still revisits to watch a ballgame or sit by the pond.

"I'm usually stressed, but whenever I go out to Capaha and sit I just feel relaxed," he said. "I just love going out there and just watching nature."

Clark currently lives in a home that is shared by three other guests who were staying at the People Shelter and said he is glad he can shower every day.

"It feels great being in a house because the streets are rough," Clark said. "People think this is easy. It's not easy. I don't think a lot of people can do what I did and survive. I think they would say 'how did they do it?' The will to live and I've got a very strong will to live."

Clark said he is more motivated to better himself and is interviewing for other part-time jobs.

"I had an interview at Family Video and it went really good," he said. "I have another interview set at CiCi's pizza tomorrow. I'm going to go that and hopefully get something because God it's rough having no money."

Clark is also encouraging people who see a homeless person to consider their emotions and treat them like human beings.

"When you see somebody on the street don't think of them as a disease, or things like that," Clark said. "Go up there. Talk to them and see if there is anything they need. Man, they might just be hungry."

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