Two years ago, Anthony was enjoying a successful career in wardrobe, set design and acting for film and tv. Originally from Delaware, where his mother was a college professor of Communications and his father ran a small construction company, Anthony grew up in a loving, comfortable home. He was encouraged to develop his creativity, work hard and put his best foot forward in everything he did.
Sadly, when he was still a young man, both his parents passed on within a few years of each other and Anthony, with no brothers and sisters to lean on to help, coped with his grief by travelling the world, wanting to experience life to its fullest. Always optimistic, he had faith that between trips he could always find new gigs on tv and film projects.That formula worked for several years before he finally settled down in New York with a long term job on a major television network tv show in New York.
“I lived in an apartment building on the West Side, you know…a doorman, a nice place, ” he says. “I enjoyed the good things in life: restaurants, travel, nice clothes. I didn’t know what it was like to live without any money.”
So, when the production company went through a reorganization and Anthony lost his job, he was confident he could pick up new work before too long. That was a year and a half ago. “I thought I’d pick up something new by the end of the month,” he remembers. “Then one month turned into the next, and then the next.”
Never one to give up hope, Anthony refused to think about the worst case scenario.
But with no income, and no new job prospects in the competitive show business industry, Anthony soon saw his bank account dramatically shrink until he finally had to use his security deposit to pay for a final month on his apartment last June. Since then, he’s been living on the street, homeless, and without family to turn to.
“That first day, when I moved all my things into storage, I looked around and thought – I really don’t have anywhere to go!” he says. “So I started walking, and trying to figure this ‘homelessness thing’ out.”
Anthony’s been putting one step in front of the other ever since. Not feeling safe in the crowded shelter system, he started sleeping on the subway at night, and coming to the soup kitchen during the day for his midday meal.
“If I stay clean and well groomed, and I sit a certain way on the subway with my briefcase between my feet, I can close my eyes. I just look like I’m a tired commuter, and I sleep from one end of the line to the other” he says. “By using my old gym membership I can still shower and stay clean. The haircut vouchers from the soup kitchen have really helped.”
At first, he said, it was hard to ask for help. “I always saw people in line here and I was hungry. My pride got in the way though. I kept saying to myself – ‘I don’t want to be in that line’. Next thing you know…I’m in that line!”
He remembers his first impression of the inside of the soup kitchen as he stood with his tray of food, how it immediately gave him a sense of hope, of peace: “The church is so beautiful!”
Anthony continued to look for work, but when his phone got cut off, he faced an even harder uphill battle to stay on top of his job search. Excited to find out about our computer lab and resume coaching, he says, “All the people here help so much, they are amazing – the food, the clothing, the soap and toothpaste, the haircut vouchers. It makes me want to volunteer too. I need to feel productive.”
Anthony’s perseverance, combined with the help from the soup kitchen will hopefully pay off before the winter months set in. He’s just recently gone to several job interviews for customer service positions and one job looks especially promising.
“You know, I see this as temporary. It has to be” he says, determination in his voice. “Some day, I’ll be able to give back a lot to the soup kitchen. You’ll see!”