Buddy Gaines Personifies Grace
Buddy Gaines has every reason to complain. Yet he is grateful. Grateful to the people who have helped him and grateful to The Center for Respite Care. His mission is simple — to say thanks and to offer a hand to others. Though his speech is challenged — due to throat surgery for cancer — his words and thoughts are clear.
He is an optimist who believes in the best of us. He has hope.
Buddy was born and raised in the small town of Steubenville and has been in Cincinnati since 2007. He was the youngest – four brothers and three sisters — and is a father. Sadly, he ultimately found himself experiencing homelessness and afflicted with cancer. However, it was not pitying that he sought.
“When I first came down with cancer — it was devastating, and I lost my job. My daughter came down from Toledo…the people at the hospital told me that if I didn’t listen to them that I would die. At that time, I was a certified life coach and motivational speaker and I also worked at a factory.”
When he lost his job, he had to stay in a hotel for a while. There was no way that he could continue to support himself as he was going downhill. He could not go to work at the factory anymore.
“The doctor told me that I am not going to make it. I am such a positive person that I am not going to let that happen even though everyone told me that I was going to die. I had started to talk to the man upstairs after people told me that I was going to die.”
Ultimately, Buddy had to live in his car and was finished with initial radiation and chemotherapy. After about a month of being homeless, he ended up going to a shelter. It was overcrowded. But he had nowhere else to go. The stress level was very high.
“I was just trying to figure out how I am going to get out of this mess. While I was there, I got pneumonia and the cancer came back. I found myself with walking pneumonia and had to make my way to the hospital. And from there to the emergency room. They admitted me.
I was on my own.”
From there he went to the Center. He was not able to eat and had to eat through a tube in his stomach. Buddy remained in the Center for a few months. The Center helped to make sure that he was doing what he needed to recover.
When asked to talk about his time at the Center he explains; “
“I know that they care about me. Dave, the case manager, was my friend and he helped me out a whole lot. I had a very good relationship with Patrice, the nurse, and Mendy, the medical recovery assistant. All of the staff were very helpful, and I was able to accomplish a whole lot ——they all helped me every step of the way. It felt to me like a family. You could tell that people were very passionate. They were not afraid to put in actual physical work. They were all impressive. They were inspiring to me. Dave was there every step of the way. They gave me hope and good things were happening for me. They helped me to get my disability. I love to paint and draw, and they brought me books and pencils — anything that I needed. While it was really bad at the same time it was really good.”
While the Center team helped him regain his health, they also supported his return to stable housing and independent life. The Center helped him to find the housing that he is in now.
“I ended up losing everything that I had. I had to get things like a birth certificate, etc. All I had was the clothes on my back — all of my paperwork. Dave helped me out with the housing and resources. They helped me to fully recover and ever since then I feel better every day.”
Importantly, he expresses that they all helped him out in different ways.
“They were a huge part of my recovery and helped me to get where I am now. I am very grateful to all of them. Not only did they help me through, but they were instrumental in me finding out my true identity — who I am as a person. The Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, they allowed me to speak to people there and motivate them with my story. I enjoyed that. I was in my element. It felt good to be able to come and give back to those who helped me along the way. I am blessed to have been able to be there. They care for the people.”
Thank you to the Center team. It is people like Dave Ehrnschwender, Mendy Sanders, and Patrice McDonald, LPN who support the journey of our clients. Please consider a gift to the Center this holiday season at www.centerforrespitecare.org