In honor of young adults living in supportive housing, The Supportive Housing Network of New York hosted a Spring Youth Celebration, for providers and residents, at the Prince George Ballroom this May. Roderick, a resident of Lantern’s Schafer Hall, was one of three of Lantern’s young adult honorees selected to receive an award and give a speech. Brian Dickerson, Program Director of Schafer Hall, said, “Roderick is so nice and positive. He wants the best, not just for himself, but for others. He really is ambitious. He’s that ‘go-to’ good guy, who is so approachable and helpful”.
Our Programs Associate, Eric Ruiz, spoke with Roderick about the experience and his time at Schafer.
Eric: Can you tell me a little about the celebration itself?
Roderick: The celebration was amazing and beautiful. I appreciated that they donated such a beautiful building and space for our celebration. It made me feel loved, and that someone really cares about me.
What was it like, when you heard them announce your award?
I had no idea I was going to be getting an award, so it was exciting and surprising. But I am so grateful for it. I was a little nervous to speak, but when I got up there in front of everybody that went away. I made it look like I was calm and confident.
What did you speak about up there?
I talked about where I grew up and coming to the City. Where I’m from, South Carolina, it’s different. In New York, nobody says hello like we do, so I had to learn to be serious when I came here. It’s different. But over time I realized, it’s how you treat people, not how they treat you.
What kind of an impact has Lantern and Schafer had on you?
Living here helped me to get where I am. Where I’m from, you’re not allowed to be homeless. There’s room for you in churches and shelters. But in New York, there’s a lot of homelessness. We all need to learn to coexist as equals. Being homeless is being in a hopeless, dark place. There’s housing, but you can be on a waiting list forever. When the opportunity to move in to Schafer came along, I was so excited. I was 22. I didn’t want to be a grown man living in foster care. I made minimum wage and couldn’t afford an apartment, so I was afraid. But then I interviewed with Brian Dickerson, and ended up getting in. Schafer is a wonderful place where I can live comfortably. The staff are always there for me when I need them and they help me make the most of every opportunity.