Advocate for Severe Brain Injury: Steven Part Twelve
Bill Wright was the difference maker in Steven’s life. Bill is the director at the Technology Center, where Steven went to school for two years. Bill became an advocate for severe brain injury.
Bill, what’s the Technology Center?
We’re a training school, in Tennessee. We have three different levels. The Tech Center is one level, the Community College and four year schools. Were a trade center, blue collar trade just about.
You were starting to tell us before we started taping about how it is that you came to know Steven who became an advocate for severe brain injury. Tell me that story.
I did orientation and quite honestly, Steven was in the orientation and I didn’t pay much attention to it. I mean he didn’t look much different from a lot of students, except he had a few more tattoos and, you know, things of this nature. But I didn’t think much about it. I’d seen him back in the shop some, he was usually sitting down. I didn’t think much about that. And one day he just came to me and he said – I need some help. I’m homeless, I don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t have anywhere to turn. I don’t have anything.
And I didn’t know if he was telling me the truth and I said Steven, do you have your family. He said basically what he told you, I don’t know anything about my mother, my father, no. I said well I’m not going to get into this without some knowledge of your family. So he had his father’s phone number. And I made him stay with me and we called his father.
And what I heard from his father just, well I can’t even tell it without crying because I could never tell my son: “Well you better find you a dry bridge, because that’s where you’re going to live.” That’s what his father told him over the phone. And he didn’t even want to talk to me about it. He didn’t want to do anything about it. So at least then I knew he was legitimate.
Another student had a sister who was living in a housing project, he was sleeping on that person’s couch. He said they were kind of taking what little he had, you know, because he was taking things he had and he was selling it as he could just to get by. And that’s when I started trying to really find him a place to live and I just couldn’t wait.
How long ago was this?
Just in 2008, right after he started school in 2008.
So it’s about three years ago?
About three years ago, yeah. And I started just calling places that I knew because like I said, I’ve worked in welfare and, and where, where we’re from, and I just know a lot of people. I mean, the doors were just shutting in my face and I just couldn’t believe it would be that hard to find a place for someone to live. I finally found … I went to a housing, ah, realtor and they said well we know of a person who rents. So I contacted them and I found a place for him to rent, but it wasn’t a very good place and I was paying the rent for him. But it was just, it wasn’t ideal. But he says: “But I’m not sleeping in the rain.”
How much was that?
I don’t know about 360, 70, something like that a month. And my church were to kick in on furniture, get him, get him some stuff. A lot of people just appealed and a lot of people answered the appeal. He had food stamps but, you know, a lot of the other things, a lot of people were generous and nice and we all just, you know, we kicked in and we helped out.
And then there were just the issues of school. Steven was suffering with anger issues, sometimes with other students, sometimes getting abrasive with his instructor, you know, smarting off, talking back when he shouldn’t have. Ah, Steven’s a smart guy and this thing about him being turned down because he’s too smart, I actually heard a voc rehab counselor say: “You’re not a stupid person so they don’t feel like they need to help you. “