“St. Patrick Center means I got my life back 100 percent. They did so much for me, including a place of my own through their Hospital to Housing program.”

Vondell was born in Mississippi and moved to St. Louis for most of his school years. He lost his father when he was young but his mother was very important to him. “She was a wonderful woman. I had a good childhood.” Vondell worked as a dishwasher and admits to having had a drug problem.

His biggest struggles occurred when his mother passed away. “I hit rock bottom and lost it all—marriage, daughter, job, home.” Homeless, Vondell slept in vacant buildings and behind St. Patrick Center. “I went to St. Patrick Center for food and clothing, and participated in the Shamrock Club and Assertive Community Treatment programs on and off for two years.” Case managers say Vondell was on a long waiting list for housing.

Vondell was also dealing with mental illness, which got really challenging when he didn’t have his medication. “Some days I didn’t want to live. I tried to kill myself multiple times.” He would seek safety at the hospital and spend time in the psychiatric ward until he felt better after being re-medicated. Vondell developed physical health issues, too, due to his exposure to extreme weather.

Enter Hospital to Housing, St. Patrick Center’s new partnership program with Barnes Jewish Hospital, BJC Healthcare, Foundation for Barnes Jewish Hospital and Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis. The primary purpose of Hospital to Housing is to identify frequent emergency department users who are homeless and provide them with housing and support services. Vondell joined the program and was soon placed into housing. “It felt good to have my own keys to my own place. My prayers were answered.”

Today, Vondell is enjoying his home life and continues to meet with case managers. His daughter, now 16, recently visited him. “By the grace of God, my life is wonderful. I’m in my right mind, I take my medications and pray every day.”

See our Hospital to Housing Impact Report.

Published August 24, 2020