Next year I want to visit Brazil,” he said with such hope and conviction that he made me believe it too. Yes, with a little more time and a lot of healing, I know Derek can leave Soldano House and return to his life that includes extensive travel and exciting adventures.
But for now, Derek is desperately fighting to recover from PCP, a severe lung infection that affects many whose immune systems are badly compromised by HIV.
Emaciated and weak, Derek arrived at Soldano House in June after spending nearly two months in the hospital with a collapsed lung. He needed the 24/7 care that is so lovingly provided by the on-site Certified Nursing Assistants and the time to recuperate in a safe place where he is assured a roof over his head and three meals a day.
Derek never imagined himself in a place like this, “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder where I am.” After spending 25 years abroad, perhaps it is not surprising that Derek is still trying to discover what home is. At 56, Derek’s passport is filled with stamps from England, Spain, Sweden, and other places where he found work as an industrial designer and interior architect. His career abroad started when Ford sent him to London in 1982 to work on the Lincoln Continental Signature Series. Thanks to Derek’s team, the seats in this luxury car were more comfortable and the instrument panel more accessible.
For now though, when he finds the strength, his travels are local and less luxurious. Derek takes public transportation to explore the area around Soldano House in Long Beach. “I like the art museums and I found a Spanish restaurant that reminds me of me years traveling.”
But most of his days are spent short of breath between bouts of coughing. Derek is working with his doctors to find medications that allow him to live as normal a life as possible and to continue to dream of returning to an active life.
Derek is just one of the more than 2,200 people Alliance for Housing and Healing has served this year. From 2011-2012, AHH has provided:
- 24/7 care to 38 people who live in one of our four group homes.
- 126 apartments occupied by individuals and families who would otherwise be homeless.
- 3,271 emergency payments made for basic necessities including rent, utilities, and food.