My name is Terry Nation. I was born in Chicago, Illinois and I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. My father was a minister of a religious cult, so I grew up with an extremely false ideology of who God was. I was sheltered throughout my childhood. At the age of 14, my family found out that my father was having an affair and he left the ministry and my family for another female and her children. We were thrown to the wolves and ended up in St. Louis, Missouri on Kings Highway, in the height of racial tension. That’s where I began my life of true adulthood. In my father’s immature thinking, he had no idea what he was doing to his family.
I went on to develop a trade and became a licensed contractor for Sears for 9 years. From there, I owned my own carpet store and when I learned that plumbers made more, I went on to learn plumbing and owned my own company. I bankrupted twice, and in looking back I was so unsettled and never found stability after everything happened with my family. After many years, I decided to move to Michigan to be near my 24-year-old son, Kaleb Nation, now founder of Nation Media & Design, who graduated from Grace Bible College.
14 months ago I was living in a studio apartment in Plainfield Avenue above a real-estate company’s office. The owner of this company decided to expand his sales force therefore needed additional office space and as a result I became homeless. Upon receiving a 30-45 day exit notice and after reaching out to various resources for housing I ended living under the Grey Hound Bridge. Due to the stress of homelessness I fell into deep depression and began to use drinking as my main source of stress relief. Having been arrested twice for trespassing under the bridge I decided to move to the Franklin Bridge which was more of a secured living space for me until I met the fire chief of Franklin Boulevard who informed me that I was not able to live in this location either. From there I moved to living in the woods and it was there that I began to suffer even more; I lost 35 pounds and continued to use drinking as my outlet. Out of divine intervention I ran into Daniel Bell, one of the first graduates from the Mel Trotter’s Step Up program, on the Silver Line. When he saw me sitting there he walked up to me and said “Nation? What are you doing up here?” I said, “Waiting for the bus to go to the liquor store”, he said “No you’re not you’re coming with me”. He called into work, took me to his home, gave me a shower and fed me. It was this day that he brought me to Mel Trotter and introduced me to Janice Payne and Dennis Meyer. I was as grateful for this divine intervention as I had been pleading to God for help and contemplating suicide.
Coming in I was a person full of despair and hopelessness, now after six months of help from the faculty and staff at Mel Trotter I have renewed hope and have settled matters from the past. I have faced a lot of struggles with alcoholism that I encountered during my time in the woods and my experience with homelessness.
If I had not come to the mission, there is a good possibility that I would be dead or facing death, considering I had already spent 12 days in the ICU because of obsessive drinking.
My goals are already becoming a reality, having restored relationships with my children and family and making it to the age of 67. God has definitely been watching over me through this journey in my life.
Words can’t describe the appreciation I have for the staff and volunteers at Mel Trotter, for they have helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. Without the donors, the many seeds that are planted within this building would not happen. Because of you all, healing happens.
I would like to say that my story isn’t over yet, and they have seen that in me. I still have more work to do. I pride myself in the fact that even though I have had my struggles, I have never failed to stay in contact with all of my children and stepchildren. Oftentimes my sons wake me up with sharing what God is doing in their lives. What a blessing to wake up to.
To finish, my favorite Bible verse is from Matthew 25:31-46 is the story of when Jesus talks about judgment and separation of the sheep and goats. Jesus says that anything we do for someone else, we do for him. Having grown up in a home where religion is about rules, my homelessness has helped me understand this story on a different level as the face of Christ is in every homeless individual I’ve ever seen.
Terry is now in housing and found a job.