SARASOTA, FL - When you walk into Michael Lynes' home, you can't help but notice how neat and spotless it is. In fact, upon visiting this 28-year-old man – whose life has been anything but "neat" – he mentions that he was just about to do some cleaning.
For Salvation Army client Lynes, being placed into a home through the PATH (Plan of Action Toward Housing) program has been a relief and a blessing. He still has to walk five miles each way to catch the bus to his job but he's better able to keep up with his online classes through Ringling College of Art & Design, pay his bills, and move toward a healthier lifestyle.
Five years ago, The Salvation Army implemented a programming framework called Quality of Life by Choice (QLIFE) to reduce homelessness and move people toward stable housing. The program moves homeless individuals through a continuum of care that includes short-term housing, case management, and long-term goal-setting. The ultimate goal is to connect the right resources to maximize individual choice with a minimum intervention of community resources to stabilize housing.
But when clients are finally placed into longer-term housing, furniture is not included and the individuals do not have significant funds for furnishings. A supporter of both The Salvation Army Sarasota and Goodwill Manasota connected the two organizations, in hopes that items Goodwill hadn't sold in retail stores could be donated to The Salvation Army clients rather than diverted to salvage operations. Since the connection was made in 2018, more than 10 individuals or families have benefited from the partnership.
For Lynes and his roommate, furnishings include a couch, table, dresser, chairs and more to make their home more comfortable. While things haven't been perfect, having a stable home has made an enormous difference.
"I don't have as much worry," he said. "My migraines are way down. I know that I'm a lot further than I would have been able to make it on my own."
This is really something for a young man who has been through so much. When Lynes was a teenager, his mother wasn't around and his father was in jail. He and his younger sister often went to bed hungry. They took to breaking into cars to try and find money and items they could sell. After a few months, Lynes was arrested. He took the blame for all of the crimes in order to protect his sister and was sentenced to 3-5 years.
After his time in jail, things didn’t get easier. Lynes was kicked out of his grandmother's home as others in her senior community objected to his presence. He was kicked out of his girlfriend's place in Tampa when they broke up. He has suffered through substance abuse (but has been clean and sober since 2009) and still is without his driver's license because he has a couple of tickets to settle. Two of his computers have been stolen, disrupting his studies and putting yet another barrier between him and success.
But because of his case manager, Bridgette, and those who donate to The Salvation Army and Goodwill Manasota, now he's got a chance to overcome his obstacles and he truly believes he will achieve his dreams. He'd like to work for Google or a networking company someday. He'd like to pay his debts and maybe even get ahead. He'd like to regain his driver's license so that he could use the car his father is holding for him. He is grateful for those who believe he's worthy of a second chance and he hopes that others will find people like him worthy of their support.
"Everybody goes through different things. For some it runs them to the ground and some get over it,” Lynes said. “You're not just giving away something you don't want anymore – it might help someone else down the road. And, someday, you may need help, too."
“We are so grateful for Goodwill’s efforts in solving homelessness in Sarasota and Manatee counties," said Chris Johnson, director of program services for The Salvation Army Sarasota County. "Rapidly Rehoused individuals are 12 times more likely to remained housed when they have furniture in their new home. Goodwill is positively impacting the dignity and quality of life for those being rehoused in our community.”
PHOTO ID: Salvation Army client Michael Lynes in front of his home
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.