VEP Client Story – George Rosemon


You aren’t from Virginia – what can you tell us about the difference in getting assistance (of any kind – food, shelter, employment assistance, etc.) here in our state versus California?

“Well California is a big state so it really comes down to each individual city and the Programs that city set up. San Francisco has some of the best programs such as “Healthy San Francisco” which is health care specifically for San Fran residents who earn lower income but being on the streets in a city that big and populated is a lot more dangerous. Sacramento, my home town, was a very difficult place to get good quality food and the shelters were very low in quality of care where as San Rafael in served a banquet of food to anyone in a restaurant/cafeteria setting great programs. Richmond is very tough to get into good shelter and it seems that the many churches carry the burden of feeding those in need, which actually in my experience is filled with a lot of care put in the food out here. Though it saddens me to see that if I did not have my veteran status I would be in a much tougher position out here.”

What are some of the differences that River City has been able to offer in comparison with past experiences that has been especially helpful? As an example, have you been able to bring your dog with you to other programs/offices, or has being able to ask for food if and when you need it and get some (even if it is soup) been a different experience?

“River city is a very unique program which kind of surprised me the vacuum that “River city” fills in terms of helpful programs, where as places like The American Legion or a locally run “Hospitality center” provided those same services in Fort Bragg CA. The biggest difference is the amount of support and resources is very focused all under one roof with a very experienced professional team who are very focused on setting you the client up for success where the programs in California was a mixed pot of very experienced workers but sometimes the consistency was not there.”

There are a lot of misconceptions that people may have looking from the outside in at your situation. Though you are employed now, things weren’t easy before you got your job. Can you tell us about a situation or situations that you experienced that you had different opinions of before you found yourself there?

“As far as misconceptions go the obvious is the people might think that I am “lazy” or just praying on people’s kindness by, asking for change. We have been yelled at a couple times mostly by young men speeding in cars “Get a job!” I could respond with, if you know where I could find work with no documentation and an expired license I would be happy to work for a pay check, but usually I just ignore them. Some people just can’t fathom how anyone could fall into that situation and so it is seen as something I deserved or viewed with apathy.

Since you have been able to secure your job and get some of your affairs in order, what would you say to the individual that is struggling and is where you found yourself a month ago?

“I would say stay patient, be diligent stay sober is a big key for lots of people without homes because trouble can come from all sorts of places keeping a sharp level headed mind will keep you safer and on your toes, But talk to the people that are offering help and have a discussion about your individual circumstance you never what resources they can direct you to, blessings come when you least expect it!”


This is George’s story:

“Fall of 2013, me and my girlfriend were evicted from our very expensive apartment in San Francisco. Me, Brandy and our dog Leeloo decided to throw on our packs and head north to get away from the very busy and sometimes very dangerous city. We both said goodbye to beautiful San Francisco as we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. We hitch hiked from city to city, Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Sacramento, San Raffle and Finally Richmond, Va. Unfortunately my pack was stolen with all my paperwork and identification, which left me handicapped when it came to getting a job or using resources – even getting a library card proved difficult. In each city we relied on Government run EBT or food stamps, my 30% disability from the military but mostly the support by local churches, local organizations in each city and the general kindness of strangers. What brought us to Richmond were not the programs here but the overall lower cost of living compared to California, Brandy’s family that lives nearby, and the fact that I fell in love with this city about three years ago when I was stationed in Norfolk, VA. As I worked with the McGuire VA I found River City and through River City I was able obtain a Social Security card, a Driver’s license, I got a new job and in a month I will be looking at a new apartment through Virginia Supportive Housing.”