Note: Several guests at the City of Eugene’s 410 Garfield Safe Sleep site recently sat down with St. Vincent de Paul staff to reflect briefly on their experiences, hopes — and struggles — now that they’ve landed in a more stable place on their journey through homelessness. Here’s one of their stories.
“I’m very happy with being able to get out of the elements and having a place that feels like my own,” says Jaron T., who moved into the 410 Garfield Safe Sleep site after two years of living in a tent at Washington Jefferson Park.
A self-described vagabond who was willingly homeless and traveling for much of his adult life, Jaron’s journey took dark turns in recent years. He says the death of his mother, the resurgence of a powerful addiction, his inability to land steady cooking jobs, and the COVID-19 pandemic made for a “pretty rough” past five years of being unhoused in Eugene.
“Positivity will come in time. For me personally, this is my step up,” Jaron says of his transition to the more stable living environment at 410 Garfield. “Now, I need to figure out my step out. This is just the beginning stages.”
“I remember what it was like being sober. I miss it,” he says. “And I really want to get a job.”
After the Safe Sleep site’s finishing touches — including the addition of a mobile shower unit — and an increase in the addiction counseling, mental-health and other services made available to guests, Jaron says “this place will be beautiful.”
“It’s also beautiful to see people like you guys who still have empathy and compassion in this world,” he says, pointing out several members of St. Vincent de Paul’s site staff and describing them as “so kind and nice and giving and experienced and understanding.
“I do see hope here.”