Willie Graham has lived in Schafer hall for the past 10 years and maintained his sobriety since the day in April 2002 he moved into his new home. Willie has made tremendous progress in stabilizing his life and overcoming obstacles associated with a life of homelessness and substance abuse. He attributes his success to having a clean, safe and permanent place to live in Schafer Hall and no longer having to scramble to live on the streets.
For many years, Willie volunteered at the Terrance Cardinal Cooke Health Center, making daily visits to disabled and chronically ill residents who otherwise would not have had any visitors and bringing patients in wheel chairs to different areas of the facility. Willie devoted himself wholeheartedly to his volunteer work inspiring others along the way with his own story of personal transformation. Wherever Willie G. goes, he humbly, yet passionately conveys a hopeful message and exemplifies healing, recovery and personal renewal. In recognition of his volunteer service, he received an "Un-Sung Leaders" Award and the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Volunteer of the year Award.
In Willie's own words, "If there weren't places like Schafer, I would have had to spend my life in transitional facilities with shared bathrooms and no privacy. Living in these places created a lack of stability in my life, because they are not for the long term and are full of residents arguing and fighting. Having a private dwelling place such Schafer Hall, with its own bathroom and kitchen decreases my stress level because it allows me to live in a clean environment where I have privacy and can function on a higher level. Living in my own apartment, I no longer have to worry about where I am going to stay the next night and the next night thereafter... Homelessness has a way of dehumanizing you. Schafer Hall allowed me to have my dignity back. Homelessness has been a long and stressful period in my life; I am so happy that it is over! In closing I would like to say thank God for Schafer Hall and places like them which allow people like me the opportunity to rebuild our lives."