"My name is Donnie. I grew up in Malden, then worked in the commercial fishing industry in Alaska for many years. I worked and lived out on the open ocean in tough and hazardous conditions. I’m still friends with some of the folks I worked with there - we bonded in very stressful situations. It was hard work and it took a big toll on my body and mental health. Then, my parents passed away and I returned to the Boston area, where I had a family.
After returning from Alaska, I wanted to reconnect with my family. My daughter was grown, and I have grandchildren, but I had a variety of health problems and did not have good coping skills. I started drinking and ended up homeless. I stayed at the Men’s Inn at Pine Street where a case manager helped me fill out forms for housing. He was a powerful example of recovery for me - he said “Donnie, we’ll do this together.”
Finally, I got my own place – my patience and persistence had paid off! It became difficult for me, however, as I needed a building with an elevator. That’s when I moved into another Pine Street residence.
The pandemic was tough on everyone. I struggled with isolation and fear, and I was very close to reaching a breaking point. The support staff helped me get back on track; I got involved in an intensive online recovery program. The program helped me connect with positive people who were also in recovery. I still work with a recovery counselor and have a binder of recovery materials that I look at every day.
My fish tanks are part of what makes this place a home to me. When I was growing up, my father converted a large bookcase into a wall of tanks with all kinds of fish. Having this place and these tanks connect me to where I came from. I also worked with someone in the neighborhood to clear out a lot behind the building. Now we grow a small herb garden and have tomatoes, too. Next year, I plan to expand the garden. When I sit out there, it gives me a feeling of serenity.
My goals are to maintain my serenity, continue to work on my recovery, and to see my grandchildren. I’m so thankful to Pine Street for everything they have done for me. Without their support, I would be out on the street.”
- Donnie, Pine Street tenant