William “Bill” Winstead, 65, joined the Marine Corps at age 18 with the impression that the military would take care of him the rest of his life. So Bill served his country, journeying across continents and oceans, from the Philippines to Kenya, Thailand to Germany.
After 14 years of service, he returned home and was able to get a job for a while to provide for himself. But it was a tough road, and eventually he found himself jobless and homeless. That was hard to accept after he had sacrificed so much for his country.
“To wake up one day and be without a home and work…that’s a struggle. It’s hard,” Bill said. “You wake up one morning and say – wow, I can’t provide. How do you tell your kids that?”
After being homeless for about eight months, Bill happened upon Passage Home’s Raleigh Community and Safety Club, and for the first time in a long time, he felt valued and respected for his years of service.
“They brought me in and adopted me,” Bill says. “That’s what Passage Home does – adopts.”
Today, you’ll find Bill with a home and a job, thanks to Passage Home. Through its transitional housing program, Bill received a roof over his head at Brown Birch community where he’s been thriving socially and is already giving back with a neighborhood garden. Bill has also found professional success as an administrator for Passage Home.
“I would tell vets that there is hope,” Bill says.
Substance abusers, convicted felons, the homeless and victims of domestic violence are some of the clients Passage Home serves.
Eight years ago, Lisa Branch would have never believed she could be labeled under almost all of these categories. But after escaping an abusive marriage, the floor quickly fell out from under her.
She soon found herself house-poor.
Then she lost her job.
Broken and vulnerable, she turned to substance addiction to ease the pain of her situation. And after becoming homeless, she was arrested and sent to prison.
“Never had I imagined I would be where Passage Home found me!” Lisa says.
After an interview with Passage Home, Lisa was accepted into its Prison Re-Entry program and, for the first time since leaving her husband, she was able to focus on getting her life back together and being a mother to her children.
She successfully completed Passage Home’s parenting classes, therapy, and substance abuse services before finding a job at a web design and marketing company.
Today, Lisa works full-time at Passage Home as its volunteer coordinator and recently became a first-time homeowner.
Just like Lisa, people can find themselves in a tough situation given a few unlucky breaks. Passage Home helps people regain control of their lives, offering a hand up, not a hand out.
“This program changes lives.” Lisa said.
According to 15-year-old Ashante Watson, Passage Home’s Youth Development program is life changing.
She remembers her grandmother signing her up for summer camp when she was eight, and she’s been hooked ever since.
“I just remember there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and everyone was very caring and kind,” she said.
Now, a Counselor in Training (CIT), Ashante mentors the younger kids, oversees creative activities and helps them with their homework.
“It feels good to know you’re a role model to kids…that I can be there for them,” she said. “I had a role model through Passage Home, and she inspired me. Now I get to inspire younger kids in the program.”
Ashante wants to be a special education teacher one day and is confident her experience with Passage Home will help her make the right college choice.
Learn more about how we empower people to receive their blessings at our People Page.