Before becoming homeless, Donald served in the National Guard and an airborne ranger for twelve years. While he cared deeply for his family, he struggled with addiction after his service and left his family. He traveled all over the U.S., finding work wherever he could, but Don’s health deteriorated over the years.
In 2014, he found himself in California, struggling with chronic heart disease and cancer in the streets of Santa Ana. Don was in and out of the hospital for months, until January of 2015, when he was referred to Illumination Foundation’s Recuperative Care.
While in IF’s care, Donald received interim housing, daily meals, integrated medical oversight, and intensive case management. With the help of staff, Donald was able to move into his own apartment in Fullerton with his dog, Scrappy, within six months, where he continued to work with our Housing Team to ensure he would sustain his home.
This past April, Don’s life changed forever, when his family in Ohio spotted his picture in an Orange County article that had been published over two years ago when he entered IF’s program. Although it had been nearly twenty years, Don’s children recognized their father’s soft smile and blue eyes. Donald’s family had searched for him for years, and they were ecstatic to have finally found him–alive.
Today Donald has officially moved back to his home state of Ohio to spend the rest of his days with his children and three grandchildren. He looks forward to walking his oldest daughter down the aisle next Fall and spending as much time possible with his family. Don’s long journey has finally led him back home.