Darold Christian - KCHC Steering Committee Member At Large and Homeless Consumer Representative
There was a time when Darold Christian found himself homeless and so hopeless he actually planned to end his own life. But thanks to the intervention of friends and the folks at several member agencies of the Kern County Homeless Collaborative (KCHC), he is now stably housed, enjoying life, and beginning to give back to the community that helped him.
Darold, 64, and originally from Northern California, is a U.S. Army veteran who worked primarily as a delivery driver until his early fifties, when a drug charge cost him his job and apartment in Sacramento.
He had some friends in Bakersfield who invited him to come and live with them, he said, but they had ulterior motives: “They were only my friends because I had money and drugs. When the money and drugs stopped, they kicked me out.”
Despondent and feeling utterly alone, Darold drove his car out to a rest stop along Interstate 5. He had a jar of pills and every intention of taking them, but then his cell phone rang. It was a friend he had not heard from in years, whose mother worked in mental health services. She helped Darold get into Mary K. Shell Mental Health Center until his suicidal crisis was under control.
While there, he was referred to Kern County Mental Health Department’s Kern Linkage Program, which provided him with linkage-oriented case management and intensive therapeutic treatment.
Thanks to Kern Linkage, Darold was able to obtain housing in the Green Gardens Supportive Housing Program, but he lost that housing when he got into a fistfight trying to defend two fellow female residents from an attacker who was also a resident.
Later, while keeping an appointment at the local Veterans Clinic, Darold found out about California Veterans Assistance Foundation, which provides housing and supportive services to homeless and at-risk veterans. He lived at CVAF’s Oildale facility for about a year and a half, until CVAF President Deb Johnson found out about Golden Empire Affordable Housing, Inc.’s new Haven Cottages, affordable rental homes for homeless individuals with mental illness. “She put my name in,” Darold said, and he was the very first tenant when Haven Cottages opened in the fall of 2011.
“You can’t imagine what it feels like to have the key to the front door of your own place,” Darold said with tears in his eyes at a recent meeting of the Kern County Homeless Collaborative. Several of his listeners not only cried with him, but elected him as a fellow voting member of the 2012 Steering Committee of the KCHC.
Darold’s voice of experience—as a consumer of homeless and mental health services—is a great asset to the Kern County Homeless Collaborative.
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