COVINGTON, Ky – Bill Lawhead said he surrendered himself a few months ago, taking action toward recovering and gaining a better life.
“I got down on my hands and knees and prayed to my high power to give me strength,” said the 42-year-old recovering alcoholic and drug addict, who is also homeless.
That’s when he met Rachael Winters.
Winters, the director for the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky took in Lawhead in August. He joined the other 439 homeless served this year at the shelter which previously only housed adults during the winter but now also offers shelter during the summer.
“[She’s] very supportive, and a great influence on my life. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I’d be today,” said Lawhead, a 1989 Holmes High School graduate who started drinking at age seven and smoking marijuana at 10. As he matured into a teenager, his addiction grew to drugs like prescription pills and cocaine.
He’s been clean from drugs for six years, he said. But he was still homeless and jobless.
The shelter and Winters, he said, have been instrumental in not only his overall recovery from a troubled, often-high past, but also in securing a job and finding housing of his own.
“It’s getting guys like me off the street and stabilizing structure in my life,” he said. “Giving [us] another chance at life.”
By the summer of 2014, guests like Lawhead will have to transition from homelessness at a new location. But first, the shelter needs to raise $1.5 million to do it.
Gateway To Buy Shelter
As Gateway Community and Technical College continues its urban transformation, it has started purchasing buildings throughout Covington, including the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, located at 634 Scott Blvd. just a block away from its main campus.
The community college will transform that block — which includes The Point, Dressman Center and the shelter— into a new Science and Allied Health Center, student center and parking that school officials hope will ultimately serve 5,000 students — 3,500 more than currently.