As a self-described hard-headed child, former COTS client, James has always been determined to make his dreams come true.  However, the cards of life have not always fallen in his favor.

James was working in Oregon when he had an opportunity to move to California. Unfortunately, soon after moving, he became badly injured. An infection enveloped his foot, making walking hard and working nearly impossible. James was injured, sick, living in a tent outside, and constantly visiting the hospital for his health.

Eventually, James received medical attention and was told about COTS’ Recuperative Care Unit (RC). James warily agreed he needed help and came into COTS’ RC. Quickly, he was astounded by the level of care he was given, stating, “They got me taken care of, like a king.” For the next few months, James stayed in RC. He was able to attend all necessary doctor appointments, heal, nourish his body, and build friendships with many of COTS’ staff. “This shelter helped me. This shelter showed me how to live.”

He recalls what made him change his hard-headed ways and start listening to the advice of COTS’ Staff. “There was understanding and [they] showed that somebody did care about you. [They] showed someone was willing to help you [even if] you’re like me and can’t read or write. . . Because I listened to what these people told me to do, I made it. If I hadn’t listened to these people, I wouldn’t have ever made it.”


(Pictured below: James and COTS’ People’s Village Services Manager Stacie Questoni)

James stayed in RC until he was able to move into a little house in COTS’ People’s Village. Then, he began diligently working with COTS’ client services and the case managers to file all the appropriate paperwork he needed to eventually secure his own housing. Due to his age, James was also able to file for social security and retire. Praising the staff for getting him to where he is today, James says, “They just [kept] me focused. I had someone to talk to [and it] meant a lot. They [told me] which way was the right way and which way was the wrong way. If they saw me going [the wrong way] they stopped me and corrected me. [They] put me back on the right track.” He credits everyone he met at COTS: Sean Andrews, Chris Inclan, Stacie Questoni, Robin Phoenix, Fionn Robertson, Chef Janin, and many more former and current COTS staff members for “getting him to the top.”

Finally healed and freshly retired, James was able to start saving money for an apartment deposit. He worked small jobs to supplement his social security and after around six months, James was ready. With his saved cash in hand, he was able to secure the apartment he still calls home today and begin dreaming big again.

Despite James facing more health difficulties as he gets older, he still has a big dream of opening his own business that will hire people to clean yards, windows, and other chores that he once did to earn money. He wants to give people the chance that COTS gave him and does not hesitate to give those he sees struggling a few dollars when he can.

But James does more than help people out with money, he seeks to inspire those around him to get help as well. He shares his story with anyone who wants to hear it, often laughing at people’s disbelief that he was able to go from a man who could barely walk to where he is today. “They look at me and they don’t believe it. They look back, [to when I had nothing and] now I’ve got my own place to live. I’ve bought me a motorcycle and I’m still saving up. I might buy me a house one day or a little piece of property and build a little house. If I can do it, anybody can do it!”