Struggle on the Streets Part 3: Jeremy's Story
"Life just got too hard,” Jeremy Hackney said. “I had a lot of stresses and pressures from work and it just led me to be an angry person."
Seeing Hackney today may make it hard to believe he was ever homeless.
"Saw no other road out,” He said. “Just to walk away and literally go live in a bush because there wasn't going to be any stress there— there wasn't going to be anyone to expect anything out of me."
It was almost the 2010 new year when Hackney turned his back on everyone he knew, left his job in construction and found refuge outside.
"It was easier to be cold and wet, than angry and sad."
That’s what Hackney did for three and a half years. He said he would wonder around Eureka and just think. But about a year into it he met someone.
"I’d stand in line and have my two seconds of 'Hi Betty' and she'd smile and hand me some food."
Things started to change for Hackney after about four months of talking with local philanthropist Betty Chinn.
"A bit of my pride came back to me and I didn't want to take from someone who is so nice," He said.
That’s when he decided to volunteer.
"I just poured everything that I’ve learned throughout my profession into cleaning showers and serving Betty."
He did that until August of this year, that’s when he finally entered housing.
"Everyday made me feel better and made me feel like I could re-enter the world and maybe I could do it in a fashion that wouldn't be self-destructive," Hackney said.
Now fast-forward to today— Hackney is about to move into an apartment and has a full-time job again in construction.
"Waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work is the best part of my day,” Hackney laughed. “Staggering out of bed for a cup of coffee, I love it."
But he said there’s something still missing.
"The end product of this is to have me back with my son," Hackney said.
Jeremy said he lost all contact with his 9-year-old son after about a year of being homeless.
"It’s he most disappointing thing I’ve ever done.”
He adds he knows it will be a process, but he hopes he can prove that he’s ready by holding this job and seeking professional help.
"I was a good father, I can be again."