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“For me, what I still find unbelievable is that I became homeless. I was educated and had a long work history.”

New Orleans, Louisiana – October, 2020

My name is Steve Dooley. I was born and raised right here in this great city in the Carrollton area. I graduated from Fortier High School and attended Loyola University, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Radio and TV Production. I had a good job but was living in the fast lane. My alcohol and drug abuse were causing havoc in my life and I felt I needed more structure so I joined the Navy. I was in active duty for 3 years as an airman/seaman and I am proud to have served my country.

Once I returned home, I worked for 20 more years in the radio and TV industry. But something was missing. I had a strong desire to help others, so I went back to school and received two Masters degrees, one in social work and the other in criminal justice. I moved to Colorado for two years because I found a great job as a social worker but I began to feel more and more isolated without family and I wanted to come back home.

I returned to New Orleans and aggressively searched for work thinking surely I would find something soon. I searched the paper, the internet…I sent out applications and knocked on doors…I tried everything. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and after seven months, I was still jobless. I was shocked. I thought with 2 Masters degrees, how is this happening?

It’s hard to tell you…I had no job and no home. I found myself spending lots of time on the sofa of family and friends. But as time went on, I was spending more and more nights in my truck. I was embarrassed and I was desperate. I remember sitting in my truck on the Mississippi levee one dreary afternoon…and I said it out loud. My God, I am homeless. I didn’t know where to turn. As fate would have it, soon after that day, someone told me Volunteers of America helps homeless veterans like me. The very next day, I walked into the doors of Volunteers of America and felt like I “flipped the script.” The counselor needed counseling; the social worker became a client.

When I sat and told my story to the staff at Volunteers of America, I started off strong, telling them about my upbringing, just like I did to you today. Eventually, I was in tears. I was at the end of my rope and the turns my life had taken had become overwhelming. They helped me find housing at a Veterans Facility for homeless vets.

I wasn’t at the Veterans facility for long before a staff member called and offered me a position with Volunteers of America! Can you believe it? A job with Volunteers of America doing outreach to homeless veterans living in shelters, under the bridges and on the streets. I would help them find housing and a job. It was a perfect fit for me. Once I was able to save a little money, I moved out of the Veterans Facility and into my own place but continued to work with the veterans.

For me, what I still find unbelievable is that I became homeless. I was educated and had a long work history. It’s scary, really. It happened so quickly. And to think…it could happen to anyone. I can’t say thank you enough to the folks at Volunteers of America. They embraced me and gave me hope. They saved my life. I will be forever grateful to Volunteers of America. May God bless you and thank you.

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