I am a former Brentwood Cottages resident. This is the first opportunity that I have to put in words how much my Brentwood experience has meant to me. My heart is filled with joy, hope and thankfulness as I am writing.
In 2001, while I was coping with homelessness, I was diagnosed with HIV. The diagnosis completely changed my world. For the first time in my life, I experienced rejection by my family and friends. The feeling of devastation was beyond words. In my darkest hours, I came across Brentwood Cottages, which opened the door and welcomed me instantly as a family member. During my 15 months of living at the Cottages, the Brentwood staff showed me compassion and caring that was healing and nurturing. It was that compassion and caring that helped me regain my faith in life.
My transitional stay at Brentwood was a turning point in my life. The staff, through their tireless work, guided me toward an independent living. From case management, food service, to fitness training and nutrition and psychiatric counseling, Brentwood staff delivered comprehensive services that touches each resident. It was during my stay at Brentwood that I realized how much the community affected with HIV/AIDS needs help from groups like yours. Your pioneer work speaks to the existence of humanity. You have helped me find a new beginning in life that was previously bleak and hopeless. Through you help, I eventually moved into an apartment on June 28 and restarted an independent life. Subsequently, at age 40, God blessed me with a lifetime partner who has been an inspiration to me.
Brentwood Cottages Resident
The help that I have received and that has changed my life generated a sense of obligation to those infected by HIV/AIDS. I have been involved in an HIV/AIDS early intervention program sponsored by the city of Houston. Recently, I became a member of Compassionate Brothers Ministry, an HIV/AIDS support group.
For all the ages that have taken place in my life, I am indebted to the kindness of each of the Brentwood staff. My gratitude especially goes to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Samuel Ratliff, for their vision, courage, and commitment in creating Brentwood Cottages against great odds; to Mr. Willie Sylvester for his encouragement for me to fight against HIV and AIDS; to Ms Teri Young for her guidance on housing and other resources; to Johnny Deal, Doretha Arthur and Marcus Caldwell for their dedication in servicing the food pantry; Dr. Regina Hicks for being a good listener and mentor with wit and a sense of humor; to Vivian Grant and Grace Phillips, who always showed their motherly concern on my nutrition and fitness. I will always remember each of you who has made a difference in my life.