My name is Gary; my experience at Praxis has been one of productivity and growth. I came to Praxis Housing Init on April 2, 2009 after being released from incarceration. I had been diagnosed with HIV during my incarceration.

In the beginning the transition for me was very difficult. I was fighting a battle within myself, feeling of resentment, depression, low self esteem, betrayal and blaming others for my current situation.

I had decided that I would just do me, and not be concerned with other people’s issues. After all, I believed that it was helping others that led me to my present situation. This disturbed belief made me develop serious issues regarding lack of trust, in addition to being HIV + and homeless.

After procrastinating and with the urging of my caseworker, I started attending housing workshops, a few weeks later I met with a Praxis vocational coordinator and together we laid out a strategic plan for me to follow. I applied for and was accepted in VESID. There I attended an eight week intensive orientation and training program in all areas of vocational assessments, at the end of the program I was deemed employment ready. Additional trainings included Food handler’s certification and Exponents Arrive training, all under the guidance of Praxis Workforce Development Program.

In October 2009, elections were held for Officers of the Praxis Consumer Advisory Board. Consumers from various Praxis facilities were in attendance, all candidates had to tell what experience they had in community service. After I shared my experiences, everyone applauded me. I then felt a new sense of purpose and hope. Later that evening I was elected Vice President of the Consumers Advisory Board. I began to feel better about myself and learned how to handle my negative emotions with the assistance of the Work Force Development Program, Church and Arrive trainings. I finally had regained control of my life.

In December 2010 I received the keys to my new apartment. The Barbour staff worked very closely with me as my housing readiness and medical situation made housing placement a little more difficult. Currently, I am pursuing my Masters Degree in Education, while seeking PT employment. In August 2011, I was elected Chairman of the Praxis Consumer Advisory Board.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Praxis Housing Initiatives and its staff at the Barbour for being a part of my support team, special thanks to the WFD Program, where I learned Administration office skills and job development techniques which made me more marketable. My goals are to build a strong consumer advisory board and become a college instructor.