• Home

Bouncing Back Part 1

By Faith Jessie.
For nearly a decade, 27-year-old Kole Rose, from Candor, has lived without a permanent home.

“You can sleep in a park or in your car if you have one, underneath the bridge, in a laundromat, places like that," said Kole.

He's been in and out of prison and halfway homes. Sometimes he has lived with his mom, sometimes on the streets. In October 2015, released from his ninth stint in prison, Kole decided he had had enough.

“I knew if I got back with my old area, I’d be back in prison doing drugs again," he said. "Just thought I’d come out here, drug free and alcohol free. I'm still doing good at it."

After completing a post-prison program, he found temporary housing at the Volunteers of America. These days, he has made finding a job a full-time job.

Rose still needs his GED. He knows it will increase his chances of finding work.

"Coming up in this environment, it’s not easy because every day you wake up thinking you are going to get a job and you don’t."

Eric Conklin also lives at the Volunteers of America.

"I try to stay out of trouble, I try to stay away from negative influences, I try and stay away from people who drink or whatever, and I try to be positive," he said.

Conklin is volunteering at the Salvation Army until he finds a job.

“It’s kind of a shock when you realize you have no place to go," said Conklin. "Where do you go? You don’t have money, you don’t have a job."

A recovering alcoholic, Conklin has been clean and sober for two years.

He says his drinking brought him to where he is today.

“It’s very hard to find work when you’re an alcoholic. You have a lot of breaks in your unemployment and you can’t explain those," he said.

Conklin has faced his share of tragedy.

"My house burned down one time, I has absolutely nothing," he said. "I had to start all over again. I was homeless for a short period of time after that. I had to start from the ground up. I had nothing.”

Both Rose and Conklin were able to find temporary shelter. Not everyone does.

"Homelessness doesn’t have a face. It’s invisible. You can look at someone but you can’t tell if they are homeless by looking at them" said Shari Weiss, Southern Tier Homeless Coalition, Chair.

The Coalition for the Homeless of the Southern Tier has a tough task: tracking down and putting a number to a small segment of the community whose lifestyle keeps them off the grid.

From November to June, its shelters and agencies have made a promise to provide shelter to anyone looking for a warm place to sleep. Other programs offer other services and essential life skills.

"The homeless services that are provided, these help people to become stable, find a safer or more affordable housing and supportive services are treatment case management , advocacy….we help them so they are able to get back up on their feet," said Weiss

They also try to end the stigma of homelessness.

"Homelessness can happen to anyone. Most of us are a paycheck away from homelessness, or less," said Weiss

These are people with goals and plans just like everyone else.

"I want to be able to have a family, have some kids, a house, things like that," said Rose.

Kole Rose and Eric Conklin are just two men trying to bounce back and pave a life from out of the shadows.

Tune in Thursday night at 10pm for Part 2 of Bouncing Back.