Albert Lyons, 21, moved to North Carolina to be with his biological mother and sisters. When things did not work out for the Buffalo native, Albert returned and lived temporarily with relatives and close friends. Eventually, he found himself homeless.
"At that point I felt like there was nothing for me. I had nothing to look forward to and I felt like nobody cared," said Albert. "After I went through my drug addictions and I quit, I wanted to make a difference in my life."
Albert contacted Catholic Charities after seeing an ad for the Work and Gain Education & Employment (WAGEES) Program on Craig's List. A few days later, the agency enrolled Albert in the Commercial Driver's License Program and the Parish Outreach and Advocacy Department was able to secure a winter coat and pair of gloves to get him through the brutal winter.
"He and I were so happy and grateful," said Tennille Anderson, Albert's case manager in the Education and Workforce Development Department.
Albert was among one of the first in his class to successfully pass both the written and road tests. He was then hired as a bus monitor and promoted to a driver for "We Care Transportation." Just when things were getting better, life threw him a curveball and Albert persevered through a new set of obstacles such as constant loss of housing, police-related issues due to mistrust in his close friends and commuting to and from work.
"Honestly, I would not have been able to achieve so much without Catholic Charities because I did not have the resources or guidance," explained Albert. "The WAGEES Program taught me a lot more responsibility, what I had to do to make it through the program and obstacles I had to overcome. It also motivated me and I learned a little bit about myself and how capable I am."
Albert obtained a bus pass and tokens until he was able to receive his first paycheck. His supervisor said that, contrary to his current cheerful disposition, Albert always looked sad and often hung his head down when he first started work. Today, he is a devoted employee with a great work ethic. His co-workers even look up to him. Albert has become financially stable and recently bought a truck. He gives back by mentoring and sharing his experiences, his strength and his hope with others.
"Basically, my dream now is to just be successful, get everything on track and live a happy life," he said.