My Mother was intoxicated when she gave birth to me. Doctors took me straight to emergency for stomach surgery! It saved my life. My mother had five boys and four girls by different men. She used to tell us all the time, “I can’t stand you boys! I can’t stand you boys! I can’t stand you boys!” When she was intoxicated she liked to put out her cigarette butts on us. The man I called Dad left my Mom when I was five years old. So she kept the girls and us boys stayed with my grandmother, until Dad found housing for us. Only three of us boys went with him, my eldest brother and the baby stayed with my grandmother. There weren’t too many cuts or breaks for me. I had to do as told and make sure the younger ones did as told.

I came up in the high rises of Wayne Minor Court (the Kansas City projects) in the late sixties and seventies. It was full of violence and crime, deep poverty, drugs and alcohol. The place was built in 1960 and pulled down in 1987. I experienced things there that’d make your hair curl! Perhaps I’ll tell you about that another day!

Where did you go to school? Chester A. Franklin Elementary. I went to different High Schools: De La Salle, Lincoln, and Westport. I didn’t graduate. I wasn’t like the other kids, I was slow at learning. My Dad didn’t care, he wanted us boys working. Years later I found out I had a learning disability. It hasn’t affected me. I’ve always worked. I’m known as a jack of all trades! I do a little bit of everything: construction, house renovation, I’ve got a plumbing license and I’m certified as a Barber!

Tell me about your path to Reconciliation Services? I had gall bladder surgery in 2014. It went wrong and I had to have a second surgery a few hours later. I was in a bad way, but they couldn’t let me stay in hospital. I went home with a colostomy bag and a lot of tubes. A few days later I was back in the hospital! I couldn’t eat and I was dehydrated. It took them six months to get me right. I couldn’t work and I lost my home and my car. It put a lot of strain on my relationship with my wife and we separated. 

When I got back on my feet I signed a contract with a property guy to renovate a run-down house. In exchange I lived there rent free. There was a water leak that I didn’t know about and I couldn’t pay the utility bill. I contacted Hotline and they put me in touch with RS. 

Mr. Turbo was my case manager. He helped me pay the bill and I fixed the water leak! That was in the Spring of 2015. I’ve been back to see Mr. Turbo several times since then. There’s nothing that man won’t do for you when he sees you need help. He inspires you to want to help yourself! He’s given me common sense advice, supported me through a maze of stuff and he’s helped me get legal services for the property that I’m working on. Mr Turbo always takes time to sit down and listen. He’d often look me straight in the eye and say, “What’s going on man?” I’d connect with him immediately coz I knew he really wanted to know. That’s rare man! I mean, that’s really rare! He gave me courage to pull through.

What’s next for you Anthony? My wife and I are trying to work our way back together. I’m hopeful for that. I want to get back to where we were before the surgery. I’m gonna stay connected to RS. I’m grateful for all they’ve done to help me and I want to be a part of what they’re doing here on Troost. I’ve been talking with Mr Turbo about helping men who come here to get work. We’ve already had some men do contract work with me in 2015. Hopefully, there will be more in 2016.

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Story: Lyn Morse-Brown
Photo credit: Tom Morse-Brown