By Charles

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Charles and I indeed do have issues ... of One Step Away, that is.

In the time that I've been homeless I've had plenty of time to look back and try to figure out what went wrong that led me to this situation. I've come to the conclusion that it was a slow downward spiral over a long period of time in which one thing led to another. In short, it wasn't just something that happened overnight. And as a result, getting back on my feet again, for lack of a better term, won't happen overnight either.

I've been involved with One Step Away for a year and a half now and I feel as though my life has been gradually improving. Some days I do get frustrated because it seems like things aren't moving as fast as I would like. But then I think about how things were when I first became homeless. I quickly start to feel grateful for what I've accomplished up to this point. Now back to what led me to homelessness.

As I have told many of you, I became homeless due to a lost job. That job was a prep cook in a retirement home. The first four years went well. It wasn't the highest-paying job but I was able to supplement the income with a part-time job at a local newspaper that eventually was downsized. So I was back to just one job again and in the meantime the company was sold to a larger corporation and as a result I had to deal with new management with whom I didn't see eye-to-eye from day one.

Instead of trying to look for a job with which I could be more compatible, I made the mistake of just putting up with it because I'd been there awhile and there wasn't much out there at the time. Nowadays it seems as though a lot of people work jobs they don't like for these very reasons, or maybe they're afraid of change after a long period of time but that's a story for another day.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that when bad things happen to a person, in my case losing my possessions and becoming homeless, that you may have to look back and acknowledge that part of it may have been your fault. If you can't do this, at least in my case, then your situation will never improve.

Charles is a One Step Away vendor who is working to attain his own housing, and can usually be found distributing One Step Away in Center City.