Riding into a New Life

Riding into a New Life

By Matt Gleason

Mental Health Association Oklahoma

A divorce took away Larry’s wife. The economy took away his home and his job. The repo man took away the Navy veteran’s motorcycle.

All that was left was a friend’s couch to sleep on. But Larry isn’t one to trouble his friends with his problems, so he moved from the couch into a homeless shelter, where he battled depression on his own.

“I was totally devastated,” Larry said. “My life was turned upside down. I was going day-to-day wondering where I was going to eat. It was pure misery. But I made up my mind, no matter what happened, I was going to be strong enough to not let it get me down. And, one day, I’d get my bike back.”

Eventually, life in the shelter inspired Larry to seek out one of our safe and affordable apartments for Tulsans wanting to escape the streets.

“Everybody I met was super nice and made me feel like I was home,” Larry said. “It felt so good to get out of that shelter, and have my own place.”

While living in our housing, Larry learned how to rebuild his life with help from our own Darrell Gilbert, a service coordinator in our Metropolitan Apartment Program (MAP). Through MAP, we offer partially-furnished apartments to people, just like Larry.

For three years in our housing, Larry’s goal was to put his life back together and to buy a Harley.

“I bought my first motorcycle in my late 20s, and always had one after that,” Larry said. “When my bike got repoed after I lost my job, I was totally devastated because, to me, it was more than just a motorcycle, it represented freedom, security and how I felt about life in general.”

When Larry moved out of our housing in January, and into his girlfriend’s house in Ponca City, Larry finally had a roof above his head and the love of a motorcycle-loving woman. All that was missing was the motorcycle. Larry remedied that the moment he turned the key on his new blue-pearl Harley.

“I loved the color and it just had me all over it,” Larry said. “I felt like me again.

“The thing I like the most about riding is you get on that highway and it releases your stress. It works like therapy that way; all my problems just blow away.”

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