“I come down here, because I had a real bad hurricane hit,” explains Riley in an authentic Cajun accent. When Hurricane Rita struck Louisiana shortly after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the ensuing chaos triggered for Riley a bi-polar episode.
“I drove as far north as I could, and I ended up here with a broken truck,” the 62-year-old continues. “I lived out of the back of my truck.”
At the recommendation of a therapist, Riley sought shelter first at an emergency shelter. Later, he would connect with Mental Health America and get permanent housing at the agency’s YOUnity House, where’s he’s been ever since.
“MHAVC has been able to help Riley learn to be more assertive with his friends,” explains Executive Director Myra Wilkey. “He is now able to care for all of his needs. Agency staff provides him options, so that he is able to make better decisions about his needs.”
Riley adds, “They put a roof over my head. They help me out whenever I need help—all I have to do is ask.”