Finding Home

Alphanso came to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica over 30 years ago. After a few years of moving around, he settled in the city of Paterson, where he has been living for over two decades. The transition from Jamaica wasn’t always easy for Alphanso — he’s had his fair share of bumps along the way — but he’s been able to build a life here and for that he is grateful. If you ask Alphanso, he’ll tell you that he is a lucky man. Since he’s lived in Paterson, he has always had a job and a place to call home. Unfortunately, Alphanso recently fell on hard times and was forced to leave his apartment days before Thanksgiving. Unsure of what to do, he started looking for a new home but struggled to find any options. He soon realized how difficult it is to find affordable housing in a city as populated as Paterson. With nowhere to go, Alphanso resorted to sleeping in his car. He left his vehicle running all night to stay warm in near freezing temperatures. The experience was terrifying. He tells us that he was afraid that the car would run out of fuel one night, and that he might freeze to death. Fortunately, the gas tank never went empty. He was able to continue his search and finally found his way to a local social service agency, where he was referred to Isaiah Jenkins, CUMAC’s Case Manager. With few options and even less fuel, Alphanso called Isaiah and prayed for the best.

That phone call changed everything. Once Isaiah heard about Alphanso’s problems he jumped into action. With years of experience as a case manager, counselor and advocate in the area, Isaiah knew what to do and who to contact. Within hours, Isaiah found somewhere for Alphanso to stay for the night. It was only temporary, but it was better than sleeping in a cold car. He also found a local senior program where Alphanso could stay for a few hours during the day while his living situation got settled. Slowly, a plan came together and Isaiah was there every step of the way. He would drive Alphanso around, picking him up and dropping him off from programs every day and night. He would even bring him to CUMAC or take him around town to do his laundry, get his medication or take care of other essentials. This went on for days as Isaiah continued his regular responsibilities with CUMAC’s clients and residents. It’s this kind of commitment to our neighbors in need that makes Isaiah truly special. His behind-the-scenes work goes beyond anything you might find on his resume, and you often don’t realize just how much he does for those around him until you’ve talked to someone he has helped.

After countless car rides and phone calls, Isaiah finally found Alphanso a spot at a local men’s shelter. Alphanso tells us that this experience has been nothing short of a miracle. “Isaiah is a savior, man. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be dead right now” he says. “I would’ve died in the cold, because I had nowhere to go.”

Isaiah was thrilled for the opportunity to provide Alphanso with some comfort and stability at one of the darkest times of his life. “That could be me. That could be any of us” says Isaiah. “I had to help.”  Because of his support, Alphanso will now be attending a local senior program every day, where he can socialize with other seniors, participate in different activities and enjoy a warm meal. At the shelter, Alphanso won’t have to worry about keeping a roof over his head either. With that burden off his shoulders, he now has the opportunity to save some money for a new apartment and get back on his feet.   

Alphanso and Isaiah (right)

Alphanso and Isaiah (right)

"CUMAC is good place, with good people” says Alphanso. “Isaiah never gave up on me and he treated me like a brother when I had no one. I will never forget that. There are still good people in this world. God bless you all.”

Alphanso’s story is similar to so many others we have served. Here is a man who never needed any help, who worked his entire life, and all of a sudden, at the age 75, finds himself in the most terrible of situations. With so many of our neighbors living paycheck-to-paycheck, we know all too well how easily one’s life can be turned upside down.  Fortunately, clients like Alphanso don’t have to face these challenges alone. When you have nowhere to turn, CUMAC is here to help. Lives are being changed every day thanks to our incredible staff and supporters like you. 

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