“I was like a kid waiting for Christmas!” said Estel when he was asked how it felt to have a home. “This place had furniture and everything I needed. Moving in was like getting a big Christmas present!”

Estel had been homeless for a year, sleeping in front of a church wrapping in plastic at night to keep warm, when Marcia from 12 Baskets Café called Homeward Bound. 12 Baskets is a program of the Asheville Poverty Initiative that serves yummy food donated from local restaurants to a community of people from all walks of life, and Estel had been eating there for months. He was near death with a respiratory infection when Robert from Homeward Bound’s PATH Outreach team began working with Estel.

Meet Estel

Estel, 79, was born in Burnsville, grew up on a farm and worked in the fields. He remembers the day when he could get a Moon Pie and a soda for just 15 cents. He made extra money dancing and mowing lawns.

Estel was married twice, the first time for 17 years and then again for 30 – he outlived both his wives. In 1969 he moved into a house and got free rent in exchange for mowing the lawn and doing repairs on the place. Eventually, black mold became an issue at the house and, with weak lungs, Estel had to be hospitalized several times. While in the hospital he couldn’t work on the house and was eventually evicted, which led to his homelessness.

Robert and Estel Get Connected

By the time Robert began working with Estel on housing, winter was approaching and it was feared that he would die if he continued living outside. Estel was moved into an apartment last October and Hillary became his Housing Case Manager.

“Hillary was a big help when I was down and out. I thought I was going to die,” said Estel. “She took me to the doctor and got me medicine and saved my life.”

Since Estel moved into his apartment, his health has dramatically improved – his cough is gone, he’s breathing better and he’s put on weight.

Estel wants others experiencing homelessness to know that they should never give up. Call Homeward Bound… but don’t wait, like I did.

Watch Estel clogging below!