PORTLAND, Ore. -- Out of the despair surrounding homelessness comes some success stories. Lonnie Bearcub Rogers is one of them. The 50-year-old Portlander works for Central City Concern.
Rogers started as a trainee in the Clean and Safe Program, and became a full-time employee cleaning up homeless camps. Now he runs the day storage locker for the homeless near west end of the Steel Bridge. He can relate to the homeless, having been without a home off and on for 30 years.
Rogers grew up in a culture of addiction; his parents both used. Despite being a star athlete at Jefferson High School and starting college at Oregon State University, his own addictions caught up with him.
“The progression of my disease lost many things: lost jobs, lost homes, lost relationships with the ones that hurt the most,” said Rogers.
But through trial and error and the help of recovery programs and Central City Concern, Rogers is on the right path. He has a rental apartment, a car and insurance, things he didn’t have for a long time.
“I get to be responsible today and I get to live life to the fullest, and it’s not about having a mansion or a condo or a corvette all that I dreamed of when I was younger-- I’m happy today living a simple life,” said Rogers.
For Rogers, it’s also about giving back. With more than three years of continuous sobriety, he is able to help others who still struggle.
“Here at 50 years old I get to do it, it’s awesome, it makes me so happy and just it’s coming together,” said Rogers.
Rogers is thankful to the Native American Rehabilitation Association, Central City Concern, 12-step programs and many others who have helped him build a new, positive life.