For 25 years, Chris used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and escape from reality. He struggled to hold a steady job and slept on friends’ couches – bouncing from one place to another.

His life was a series of ups and downs, and he finally hit rock bottom on Cinco De Mayo in 2017 when he ended up at St. Anthony’s Hospital. He was forced to medically detox, which became the catalyst for his change.

Chris came to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s Men’s Residence for a new beginning. The Men’s Residence provides a safe, supportive and transitional shelter for men working toward independent living. There, Chris finally had the support system he needed to achieve goals like paying off his car and settling credit card debts, while learning basic skills like washing dishes and cleaning his room.

Six months later, Chris graduated from the Men’s Residence and began living independently in a two-bedroom duplex with a roommate. Now sober for nearly two years, he’s attending St. Petersburg College and working as a waiter.

This month, we celebrate successes like Chris. The Men’s Residence opened in its new 6,500-square-foot facility one year ago, thanks to the generosity of many individuals with a passion for helping men like Chris. It now houses 28 men who live in seven apartments with two bedrooms, kitchenettes, private bathrooms and shared laundry facilities.

The building’s community room holds meetings and skills-building sessions where residents learn to use computers, write resumes, interview for jobs, and set budgets. Residents work or attend school and save money to live independently upon graduation from the program.

Last year, 78 men, including Chris, received support at the Men’s Residence. And with your help, we plan to help even more men transition from homelessness to independent living this year.