After years of hard work and planning, Paul was thrilled to be moving ahead with his dream of relocating to Hawaii. But, his life changed forever in a split-second, in a freak accident, when he slipped and fell while moving a couch. A serious head injury and dislocated shoulder put Paul’s dreams on hold and sent his life into a tailspin.
Not wanting to be a burden to his family, Paul was homeless for 3½ months, until an 84-year-old former Marine invited Paul and his dog to live in his home in exchange for doing handy work around the house. “It’s caring like this, coming from all around, that makes it easier for me to believe that good things are going to come,” Paul said, getting emotional.
Born and raised in San Bruno, Paul served in the U.S. Marines for six years and spent most of his career as a union bricklayer. At the height of his career, Paul earned a six-figure salary, working on San Francisco’s tallest skyscrapers. In the late 90s, he was even part of a team that helped repair the warehouse floor at the SF-Marin Food Bank.
“It’s funny how life comes full circle,” said Paul, who receives groceries from the Food Bank at Ritter Center’s food pantry. “Once, I was fixing the Food Bank’s floors, and here I am today getting food. It makes a big difference, when you’re struggling, to be able to eat healthy.”
Today, four years after the accident, Paul has learned to manage his recurring pain and frequent migraines, but he continues to grapple with short-term memory loss. On Wednesdays, you can often find Paul volunteering at the Ritter Center food pantry.
Paul credits Ritter Center with saving his life: “When I first came to Ritter Center, I was drinking too much and struggling with anger and depression. I came here to shower, get a bag of food now and then, and availed myself of the free counseling services. There are so many kindnesses here. I honestly don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t found this help.”