Roy Anderson’s life is so different today than it was a about year ago.
From incarceration and homelessness to Employee of the Quarter, Anderson has seen many positive changes.
This Thanksgiving, the 32-year-old Fremonter is especially grateful for a home, family, good job, church and hope for the future.
And he’s thankful for a place called LifeHouse.
Life wasn’t always so bright.
Before LifeHouse, Anderson struggled with substance abuse and had moved from place to place for the past five or six years.
He came to LifeHouse in Fremont directly out of Saunders County Jail in Wahoo on Dec. 18, 2018.
“When I got here, I had nothing,” he said.
But LifeHouse provides emergency shelter and case management, which can include health screenings, budgeting assistance and many Life Skills programs.
Anderson credits his case manager, Taylor Kucera, for getting him the needed clothing and haircut vouchers.
He had the opportunity to go to a gym. The gym kept him busy and in shape while he waited for employment. It gave him something to do during his free time and kept him away from bad situations — which he continues to work hard daily to avoid.
He did a couple of odd jobs.
Then, through a local staffing agency, Essential Personnel, Anderson began as a temporary-to-hire worker at Nebraska Irrigated Seeds on Jan. 14.
He was hired full time on March 24.
Anderson said his job involves operating a machine that divides corn into different categories of kernels.
He really likes his job.
“The workplace is good,” he said. “The supervisors, the guys that I work with all are great. I’d like it to be my career.”
Every quarter, the company selects three employees to be ‘Employee of the Quarter.’”
Anderson earned that honor for the third quarter of 2019.
“That was a really proud moment for me,” he said. “That’s something I’ve never achieved in any other previous job.”
Like other employees, he worked many hours during harvest.
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But he liked it.
In the meantime, Anderson has earned respect at his workplace.
“He has been fantastic,” said Matt Sleister, Nebraska Irrigated Seeds office manager and director. “He always shows up and he’s willing to do extra stuff and he works really hard. He’s very dedicated. It’s a joy to have somebody like that.”
Besides finding workplace success, Anderson has experienced other blessings.
Jessica Timm, director of housing and case manager, got him into the Rapid Rehousing program.
“They got me into a duplex with my fiancée, who I met at LifeHouse,” he said, adding that they moved in May. “They paid everything that was needed to get us moved into the duplex and when we’ve needed help with electric bill or the rent, they’ve been available to do what they can.”
Anderson cites another blessing in a LifeHouse volunteer known as Grandma Joy.
Joy Horn serves up hot breakfasts and lunches.
“Grandma Joy is an absolute angel,” he said. “She’s the one who introduced me to the church that I’m a member of — which is First Lutheran. She asked me one morning if I would like to go to church with her and it just went from there. I kept going and eventually did become a member.”
“She kind of adopted me as her own,” he added.
Anderson also compliments LifeHouse staffers Leslie Chamberlain and Rose Fitzgerald whom he describes as very friendly and encouraging.
He’s appreciated “having a great place to stay when I was transitioning from a bad situation to a good one.”
“Everything about my time with LifeHouse and ever since has been a positive,” Anderson said.
What if he hadn’t gone to LifeHouse?
“I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at,” he said.
Looking back, Anderson can see how his life has changed.
“It’s a complete 360 (degree turn) from where it was a year and a half ago,” he said.
Life is looking good for Anderson, who is grateful for so many things: “The family that I’ve started, Grandma Joy, the wonderful staff and help that I’ve gotten from LifeHouse and having a great place to work — and family that I’ve just started rekindling relationships with that I didn’t have before when I was a substance abuser.
“Church has been helpful, too, when I needed a little extra help with my fiancée’s car breaking down, the church took care of it for us,” he added.
In the future, he hopes to be able to buy a house for his family.
It will be yet another positive change.