Joe Rose lives on $735.00 a month. $500.00 of that is for his place in a rooming house with a shared bathroom and kitchen. He thinks he has it good compared to some who are still on the streets. “I’m a survivalist. I don't need much to get by,” he says.
Things weren’t always so tight for him. An electrician by trade for 22 years, for a time, he had it all. “Two cars, a nice home on a lake, 52 fishing poles, a Harley, and a nice firearms collection because I was an avid hunter.” But that changed when a routine check up in 2009 turned up a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, and his doctor told him working with electricity was out of the question. After selling off everything he had, he eventually lost his home, and found himself sleeping on the streets of Charlottesville.
When Joe was a regular Haven guest, he was also a regular Haven volunteer. He loved working in the community garden, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing dishes. “If The Haven was going to do something for me, I was going to do something for them. That’s just who I am.”
“The Haven was a real blessing for me. The people there helped keep me on track. I was frustrated by everything that was happening to me. It all seemed bad. I couldn’t figure out why me. I felt like I was a decent person. A good person. I sometimes wanted to give up. To end it all. But the people here, they reminded me that we were working on a plan, and not to give up. Never give up. They helped me a lot, and I will never forget that.”
Joe’s life took a turn for the better in 2013. Not only did his health improve when his pacemaker was reconfigured, he finally also secured stable housing. He comes by The Haven about once a month to visit with staff, and he never fails to express his appreciation.
These days, he tries to be a good neighbor by lending a hand when he can, and he takes walks when his health permits.
“I know I need to take care of my business and make this work, because I might not get another chance. I try not to get too bothered about anything. It’s amazing how sitting down and talking with a friend helps.”