Charlie’s apartment in Brattleboro is covered in bright, beautiful drawings and artwork that truly reflect his colorful personality. He finds comfort in his home and the tireless support from his Housing First team, but Charlie’s path to this point in his life has been full of hardship and challenges to overcome. Read below for Charlie’s story through homelessness and his struggle with gender identity.
“I’m thankful that I grew up here in Vermont. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I really liked the four seasons and you really get a good mix here. There’s just something about it. You could call it, mystic, call it magic, call it whatever you want. There’s just something about these green mountains that are pretty special.”
Charlie found himself questioning the gender he was assigned at birth at a very young age. This caused him to struggle in both his family and school life.
“I was struggling as a young kid. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I didn’t know how to put words to it. Like, who do you tell when you’re that little, that you don’t feel right? Something’s wrong, something’s different. How come I don’t look like my brother when I feel like my brother?”
This confusing time in Charlie’s life left him in a fragile mental state.
“I spent five weeks in the psych ward, and I did not have a good experience there at all. They basically made me do electric shock therapy. They gave me a choice, if I wanted a place to stay, I could stay there for five weeks and do this treatment, or I had the option of being homeless, so I opted for the electric shock. When I got out of the hospital, two days later, I tried to kill myself.”
While staying in a rehab facility, Charlie was connected with Pathways Vermont.
“Pathways Vermont saved my life. Plain and simple. If the organization wasn’t here, I would not be here.
I find that the people that I’ve been working with at Pathways Vermont are committed to their job and committed to the people that they help and will go out of their way to do what they can to help. But you don’t find that everywhere, especially in the service industry. And there’s a huge burnout. But I think Pathways employees are supported well, you know? So that helps. So, they can pass that support down to the clients that need it.
They help with a lot of transportation issues that I have. Cheryl (Windham County Team Lead, pictured above left) takes me shopping every week, which is very handy because of my disabilities.
My depression now isn’t as forefront as it used to be. Suicide ideation isn’t a thing at all anymore. I don’t think of that at all as an option.”