Ron and Blackjack2Ron T., 63, has been chronically homeless for 22 years. He suffers from a severe heart condition and diabetes which has created constant pain in his legs.

He worked at the Newport News Shipyard for 33 years as a welder after completing the Apprentice School and at the same time was a live-in care giver for his mother and grandmother. His mom and grandmother passed away 6 months apart in 1992 and 1993 respectively. The Section 8 housing they all lived in was in his grandmother’s name so Ron found himself homeless. For the next 22 years he slept on the street, park benches, in Walmart parking lots, and in various motels across the peninsula. Most recently he resided at the White Lion in Williamsburg for the past 5 years with his girlfriend, Shirley, and 3 year old therapy dog, Blackjack.

The White Lion was sold in February of 2015 and residents were forced to leave immediately. Ron had nowhere to go. A regular at the United Way monthly Food Distribution, Ron turned to the United Way for help of a different kind, shelter. United Way went over to the White Lion that day and moved Ron, Shirley, Blackjack, and all of their things into their first home.

Now, Ron has a nice garden full of summer squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers and a yard for Blackjack to play in. With Ron’s health declining and Shirley having had recent heart surgery, he is grateful to have somewhere to permanently live and the ability to focus on improving their health.