When Bryant Smith first walked through the doors of Outreach, he wanted to hide. “I was so shy and stayed to myself. I didn’t talk to anybody,” he admits. But at the house on East New York, it was hard for him stay invisible for too long.
Throughout a rocky childhood, Bryant moved from place to place. Strained finances made it difficult to for Bryant's mother to pay the rent. Eventually, Bryant dropped out of school. On the verge of homelessness, he stumbled upon Outreach, through a recommendation from a concerned neighbor.
Through help from his case manager, Bryant was able to get a copy of his birth certificate, land his first job at a recycling company, and secure an apartment. Outreach also matched Bryant with his mentor Jim, who helped him earn his driver’s license and has coached him through studying for the GED.
The past two years have been filled with roadblocks as well as victories, through several jobs interrupted by periods of unemployment and months of couch surfing, most recently living with an Outreach case manager. But it’s also the first time in his life that he has known he is not alone.
“Every time I walk into this place, I feel loved . . . More than the times they’ve paid my rent, put gas in my car, food in my stomach, I’m more appreciative of the people they’ve brought into my life.”
These days, Bryant lives in a house owned by the church he began attending through an invitation from his case manager and recently landed a job at Pizza Hut just half a mile from Outreach. And when he walks through the door at 2822 East New York Street, he exudes a calm, a sense of belonging. A subtle confidence he can give a reason for.
“They tell me that no matter what, they love me. That they believe in me and I’m gonna be something.”