With a hand drill and color samples on the counter between them, Michael Schleitweiler and Erin Cowles bounce decorating ideas off each other. Cowles is a volunteer case manager with Next Move’s Home at Last program, which provides the permanent supportive housing complex where Schleitweiler has become a resident.
Before he found a place with Home at Last – which is for homeless, disabled people age 55 and older – Schleitweiler says he lived in a van for three years and worried where he’d find food and a place to shower. “Now my biggest concern is how I’m going to arrange my pictures on the wall,” he says.
Cowles came to the area from North Carolina a year ago and became part of the program through the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network. Working 40 hours a week, she checks in often with the 13 residents at the complex, addressing their issues and connecting them with resources in the community. “A lot of folks have been homeless for a significant period before coming here,” she says. “That can be a really difficult transition for people.”
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