Randy Williams, an Army veteran, came to MUST Ministries’ Elizabeth Inn Homeless Shelter in March, just before the coronavirus shut everything down. He stayed for two months and during that time, began the process of turning his life around.
A Georgia native, he joined the Army by necessity after becoming a father. In addition to working on helicopters, he served as an airfield guard in Nuremberg, Germany, and a prison guard in Berlin.
“My first three years (in the Army) were really good, but things started happening,” Williams said. “I got divorced and I told them I wanted out of the Army.”
Following his release, Williams’ 31-year-old son died suddenly, leaving him devastated and heartbroken. His sister also died around the same time and his childhood home burned down. He began to bounce around, staying at various family and friends’ homes until he was homeless and had nowhere else to go.
Then he came to Elizabeth Inn. “If anybody wants to get their life together, this is a good place to start,” Williams said. “As long as you come in and do what’s required, you’re going to make it.”
William Carraway is Williams’ client services manager and works with clients to make sure they are doing everything possible to maintain stability and keep them from re-entering homelessness. Carraway’s primary focus is on veterans, and he has a soft place in his heart for those who have served our country since his dad was in the military.
MUST was able to add Carraway’s position through the generosity of The Home Depot Foundation, which also supports MUST’s Veterans’ Supportive Housing program for clients who need long-term support to return to stability. Last year, Home Depot provided funding to help 197 veterans in the MUST Housing Programs, including 25 individuals at the Veterans Supportive Housing Program, 65 individuals at the Elizabeth Inn Emergency Shelter and 107 individuals at the Elizabeth Inn Outreach Center.
Carraway recently helped Williams secure an affordable apartment and MUST Ministries covered his rent for several months. Williams also received a starter kit containing a comforter set, hygiene items and other things to help veterans settle into their new environments. He’s currently on disability after struggling with a mild stroke and sciatica, but he wants to be able to work eventually.
“I don’t like to plan too far ahead, but I’m planning on saving what I can,” Williams said. “I also want to help others, but people have to want help. A guy here told me one day that he lives out in the woods because he doesn’t have another choice. I said, ‘Woah, woah, woah. God gave everybody choices.’ He was an able body man telling me he doesn’t have any other choice. I’m trying to prevent myself from thinking like that.”