Leap of Faith: Homeless man to fulfill a teen-age dream
Tony Beverly had all the advantages in life: Mom was a nurse; dad was in the Air Force. They provided a stable home, a middle-class life, enough money and a good education.
Growing up in Reno, he also had all the temptations. A surprise win at 19 – before he could gamble legally – set Beverly up for a lifetime of compulsion. But like many people, he was able to juggle things to keep it all going.
Then, a series of losses starting in 2011 brought the balls crashing down. His mother, sister and niece died of breast cancer. His best friend’s wife died, his girlfriend left and his daughter miscarried his first grandchild. The bank took the family home, and his car was repossessed.
“I just spiraled out of control,” Beverly recalled.
The night before he pulled into Grass Valley and checked into Hospitality House, Beverly had gambled away most of his disability check for the umpteenth time.
That was nine months ago. Beverly, 60, now is going to 12-Step meetings, getting medical care for his diabetes and working with a dietitian. He quit smoking, bought a car, and will see a podiatrist and an eye doctor.
“It’s all due directly to Hospitality House,” Beverly said. Grass Valley’s 54-bed shelter was home for five and a half weeks while Beverly prepared for a new life and staff connected him to the area’s many resources. Since July, he is among several former guests to share a beautiful house in a regular neighborhood, and a case manager continues to check up on them.
“It’s working very well so far,” Beverly said. He has set up his room like a studio apartment, enjoying a flat-screen television he bought and the morning sunshine streaming in through a window. “I don’t just survive. I thrive now.”
Soon, he’ll start training to become a volunteer announcer for KVMR Radio.
“In my high school yearbook, I wrote that I wanted to be the next Wolfman Jack,” Beverly said, referring to the rock-n-roll disc jockey with the iconic, gravelly voice. “It’s like a bucket list thing.”
And he’s saving for a deposit on his own place.
“I don’t plan to be here forever. I want to make room for somebody else,” Beverly said.