I rode the bus home during a December snow storm with all my belongings in a cardboard box. The Red Lodge representative met me the next day and gave me clothes, bought me a bus pass, and helped me get my state ID so I could go to work. I am a welder by trade. It was helpful to have someone who knew where to find resources and how to navigate the system. I am not from the Pacific Northwest, and if it weren’t for my sister, I would have had to live in transitional housing downtown. That would have really stressed this old reservation Indian to the max! Red Lodge helped me out by teaching me how to ride the bus and do job searches on a computer. They took me to Bow and Arrow Culture Club which made me feel at home. I got to sit at the drum and sing with other community members. It’s what helps keep me clean and sober. Having Red Lodge introduce me to folks that are into their culture like I am, was really life-saving. When I stick close to my culture and traditions I am strong and stay out of trouble. I have been off [parole] for 5 years now and I would like to give back by going into the prisons and helping with cultural programming. I know a lot of songs.
I owe so much to Red Lodge helping me through those first few months and making me feel valued. My wife and I just bought our own house two years ago. I love Portland!