Ali is an unassuming maintenance man at GRACE Marketplace. Five days a week, he goes around the homeless facility fixing leaky faucets, assembling new furniture, painting outdoor benches, and doing a variety of much-needed odd jobs.
He puts a lot of care into his work and prides himself on being able to fix pretty much anything. “I’m happy here,” he said with a faint smile on his face. “And I guess they’re happy with me.”
A few years ago, Ali’s story wasn’t so upbeat. When he lost his job as an automotive mechanic, the 65-year-old man soon exhausted his savings and couldn’t afford the roof over his head. Even when faced with homelessness, he looked at his situation with a can-do attitude.
“I was not totally helpless,” he said about that uncertain time. “I just needed something to let me deal with it the way I wanted to.”
Fortunately, he found his way to GRACE, where he received the help he needed to get back on track. Competent staff members gave him free immediate housing, hot daily meals, and lots of encouragement. By meeting his basic needs in the short-term, they empowered him to make long-term changes to his life. Ali stayed on as a resident at GRACE for a little over three months, until he found a home he could afford and call his own.
Then, when looking for a job, AARP directed him back to GRACE. The organization was in need of a handyman, and he was a perfect fit. He already had friendships with many staff members who used to be his advocates and counselors. Now they’re his co-workers!
Ali has been working at GRACE for a year and a half now, and he finds fulfillment in giving back to the organization that helped him recover from losing his job. GRACE not only gave him a place to live — it gave him a new career path. For 30 hours every week, Ali works hard to keep the shelter running smoothly.
“If something breaks, I fix it,” he said. That’s what he does in his job, and it’s what he did in his life. Ali’s journey from homelessness to steady employment was only possible thanks to the comprehensive resources and assistance of GRACE Marketplace.
If you want to help good people like Ali recover from hard times, you can support GRACE Marketplace by making a donation or signing up as a volunteer. It makes a huge difference. At GRACE, every small act of kindness can be a moment that changes someone’s life and makes a positive impact on Gainesville’s community.
“I’m very thankful to have GRACE in my life,” Ali said with feeling. “They gave me a chance here.”