Coming Full Circle
IVSN helps Steve Carey get back on his feet and give back to those in need.
Steve Carey grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit like so many in the Bay Area. At age 12, he started working as a newspaper delivery boy. He graduated from Mills High School, San Francisco State, and University of San Francisco. In the late 1980′s he launched his own mortgage finance company and by the early 1990′s he owned several properties and lived an idyllic life in a home with a picturesque view.
But in the mid-1990′s with the influx of competition from Wall Street, Steve’s mortgage business was wiped out. By 1999 he was filing for bankruptcy, surrendering his house and car, and moving to an apartment in San Mateo. Although he had downsized, Steve had steady work until the economic downfall in 2008.
When the recession hit in 2009, Steve’s income plummeted. He struggled to keep up with rent, but couldn’t. He was forced to give up his home and moved into a motel room, asking friends and family to help pay the bill. When their good will ran out, Steve became homeless, living in his car with his cat, Thelma, at a rest stop on highway 280. He turned to alcohol to numb his painful reality.
One morning, Steve woke up at San Mateo General Hospital after suffering an alcoholic grand mal seizure. His car was impounded, his cat was gone, and he did not have a dollar to his name.
A hospital social worker referred him to InnVision Shelter Network’s Maple Street Shelter. On the taxi ride to the shelter, Steve recalls being nothing short of terrified. It had been decades since he had last slept in a communal room with a group of people and he was expecting the worst.
“I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Steve remembers.
Soon after arriving at InnVision Shelter Network, he met with his case manager, who suggested a six-month, daily in-house drug and alcohol program. For the first time in his life, Steve acknowledged his drinking problem and entered treatment. His hope for a better life was coming back.
Keeping with his entrepreneurial spirit, Steve started a telemarketing business – right there at InnVision Shelter Network. He recruited four other people from the shelter as “employees,” and soon started making more than $1,000 a month.
Steve saved his money, committed to sobriety, and moved into permanent housing. Not long after graduating the transitional program, Steve was hired by InnVision Shelter Network as the property manager at the Vendome, a permanent supportive housing facility in downtown San Mateo. Steve now spends his days caring for the former chronically homeless and giving back to the organization that helped him regain self-sufficiency.
“Yes, InnVision Shelter Network provided me with food, clothing, and a roof over my head, but it was so much more than that,” said Steve. “I walked out of the shelter a much better person than when I walked in. Not just a better person than that man sitting in his car with his cat, but a better man than I had been all my life.”