Kendall was adopted at birth. He grew up in a loving home in Richmond, Virginia. He and his family were regulars at church and his parents were, in his words, “big on work ethic and education.” Kendall describes his upbringing as healthy, but as he got into his late teenage years he and his friends were introduced to alcohol and marijuana. “I went wrong,” Kendall says, “when I decided I liked the feeling of drinking and smoking more than getting an education and working to further my future.”
Kendall had some odd jobs after high school and had a son in his twenties. He loved his son more than anything but couldn’t balance substance use with the responsibilities of adulthood. After missing a court date in Richmond in 1996, he doubled down on his troubled lifestyle. Rather than accept a mandatory three to four-month jail sentence for missing court, Kendall got on a bus out of town. With that begin twenty years of living on street, using, and just getting by.
Reflecting on those years Kendall says, “You let the world pass you by. You’re basically living off the crumbs that society throws away. You look back, and you’re old. You’ve got aches and pains. You haven’t built anything, haven’t saved anything. You have regrets.”
Almost twenty years passed. Kendall visited home once or twice, but his family, knowing he wasn’t in a good place, wasn’t ready to welcome him back. “I missed my father’s funeral,” he recalls. “I wasn’t even aware of it and his whole side of the family lost respect for me. In 2014, Kendall decided enough was enough and he was going to get clean. He joined a treatment program and started to build momentum. In July 2016, Kendall was referred to ACE. He remembers those first days working on ACE maintenance crews, “They put me to work. My body wasn’t used to it. It took a while, but I was glad to have the opportunity and now I thank God every day.”
After almost three months in ACE’s initial program, Project Comeback, Kendall got called into the ACE Job Developer’s office. A local restaurant had reached out looking to fill a position as a porter. The Job Developer wanted to send Kendall for the interview. Kendall was nervous but he went for the interview and got the job. “It’s nothing fancy,” he says, “but I am very happy with my job. It’s the first job I’ve had in twenty years.
Now that he is stable for the first time in years, Kendall is beginning to heal old wounds. “My family is still in Richmond. My son is all grown up and I am trying to patch things up. I’ve burnt a lot of bridges, but I think I can repair the ones with my family. I really consider myself lucky. Thank you.”