The interior of a basic Ford Focus boasts about 90 cubic feet of passenger space, less room than you’d find in of the most confining closet.
But that’s what Kadeem Bryan, 28, called home for the better part of five months, eking out an existence in his car in all kinds of weather, including cold and rain.
Born in southwest Florida, Kadeem’s father died when he was but an infant. His mother, he says, lost custody due to her abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Gratefully, his Aunt Rosafelton intervened, and he stayed with her the majority of his life, until he was 26, just a couple years ago.
While in Florida, Kadeem secured a job at a gas station/convenience store before moving to the Lansing area with his girlfriend to take another job with the same company. His relationship with the girl ended, and he moved in with friends, but when that didn’t work out, he saw living in his car as his only option.
He would park it at rest stops until police arrived and told him to move on. Somehow, he managed to hang onto the job, but it wasn’t enough to allow him to save for a deposit on his own place.
He stored everything he owned in the Focus, sleeping in the rear, even though he felt “unsteady” at the prospect of someone assaulting or robbing him. “It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep in a car,” he says. “I tried reclining, but found the back seat was better.”
Exhausted from lack of sleep, he fell asleep at the wheel one night and totaled the car. The investigating officer assumed Kadeem had been drinking, but he passed sobriety tests, and the cop actually gave Kadeem a ride to his workplace.
There, a co-worker agreed to take him in to share her place, but that opportunity ended when Kadeem lost his job.
He found his way to Guiding Light’s Back To Work program, where he’s been enrolled since October 2017. He now works second shift up to 60 hours a week at a manufacturing plant near the Gerald R. Ford Airport, using the local bus system to get to and from work.
“It’s monotonous,” he says, “but still fun, and I like the people I work with, especially my manager.” He contemplates nearing the age of 30, and figures he would have had the American Dream in his pocket by now – “A house, wife, kids, all of it.”
He’s learning to become patient, realizing that life can throw tough curves a person’s way. He blames no one for where he is now: “I made the choices to move out, to move on.”
Since entering Guiding Light, Kadeem says he’s come to understand that “I’m a lot tougher than I think.” And he’s leaning on that attitude to complete the program, get his own place and move on. “If it weren’t for Guiding Light, I might not be here today,” he says. “I’d probably be in jail.” He nods and smiles broadly. “I have a lot to be thankful for.”
The majority of the men in the Back to Work program are like Kadeem: they have no stable living arrangement, plus debt and transportation issues. This makes it almost impossible to maintain work. Our program has been extended to 120 days so we can do a better job at helping men get hired. This permanent job allows men to secure a lease and know they have a steady income to maintain it.
Through the Back to Work program, Kadeem has:
Improved his credit score by 200 points
Moved into his own apartment
Paid off $4,500 in debt
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17