Greg prepares a slow cooker.

A taste of home in Ozanam Manor

Greg brought the warmth and aromas of a home-cooked meal to the kitchen in his dorm area

In a small crockpot, Greg seasoned up some taco meat with onion, garlic, and spices. He cooks from his heart without a recipe, changing up ingredients as he goes. 

Greg found the slow cooker left behind on the counter in the kitchen of his dorm wing at St. Vincent de Paul's Ozanam Manor, a transitional shelter for seniors 55+, veterans, and adults with disabilities. It didn't belong to anybody, and none of the other guests knew how long it had been there, so Greg decided to clean it up and slow cook some fresh taco meat in it for the weekend. 

Up until a few years ago, Greg's story was typical. He worked hard and made a living for himself managing a bar and club. He retired on a fixed income after some health problems, but his life was under control. That all changed in 2021, when his rent doubled like it did for so many in Phoenix that year.  

Greg simply couldn't afford the drastic increase, and on the first of the new year in 2022, he had to move out and into his car. That's where he slept until turning to SVdP for help. He knew of the nonprofit after volunteering at its downtown Phoenix Dining Room more than 30 years ago. 

Now, for a little over a year, he's been living at Ozanam Manor. It provides Greg with safe shelter, case management and resources to help him get back on his feet. However, finding a new home on a fixed income in this market takes a while, so he decided to bring a little taste of home to his shelter stay.

"It's quite tasty. I've already had a couple tacos," he said. "It'll probably be my dinner for the next week."

Right now, Greg's working on his future by learning more about web development and AI (artificial intelligence). 

"I managed the websites for the businesses I used to manage," he said. "It makes sense to go back into that now." 

With a tasty meal to help him feel full and new skills in his head, Greg is making strides toward independence and a new home of his own hopefully soon. His case manager, Stephanie, is hopeful for his future as well.

"I think he'll do well," she said. "When he gets work on top of his social security, I really think he'll be okay."

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