Marty Wilkes spent most of his career as a pastor and owner of a successful freight logistics company operating 82 trucks. He lived in South Georgia, raised three children and later followed them to Cobb County when they attended Kennesaw State University.
His life sounds ideal until he begins to share the rest of his story. After three neck fusions paired with a continuing battle with neuropathy, the beleaguered 61-yr.-old began showing signs of mood swings and an altered personality because of his medication. Last Memorial Day, he was out on the street with no home, no family and no hope. His only companion was deep depression.
After losing his apartment, his former landlord suggested he go to MUST Ministries' Elizabeth Inn and get help. He did, and a shift began to happen.
"Every person at MUST is absolutely fantastic," he said, remembering his 42-day stay at the shelter. "The volunteer who greeted me made me feel great about being at Elizabeth Inn, and I spent a lot of time talking with my caseworker."
Marty came to MUST with employment, working in Guest Services at the Infinity Club for the Atlanta Braves. "Working for the Braves is a dream come true and I've never missed a game," he said. "MUST allowed me to work the night schedule and sleep in the mornings so I could continue my job."
He said when he first realized he was homeless, he looked in the mirror "and saw an old man". He felt little hope, but "MUST gives you all of the assets and tools you need. They provide a bed, meals and volunteers even wash your clothes for you. To be honest, I kind of hated to leave when my time was up," he smiled.
Marty explained that many people he met at the shelter were in similar situations. MUST clients just need some help getting stabilized. "MUST couldn't have done a better job of working with so many people. They took everyone's situation into account," he said.
Today, Marty is renting a room from a coworker. Just a few weeks away from his stay at the shelter, he is making decisions about next steps. He appreciates his open invitation to continue using the computer lab, employment services and even hot lunches should he need more support. "MUST is doing everything they can to move people in a healthy direction. I feel like there is hope again."