From homeless to a Masters, the power of healthcare for homeless

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Charlotte Garner arrived in Houston on a bus with 32 cents in her pocket and the clothes on her back in December 2006.

She was homeless, addicted to dope and mentally ill.

After calling the NeuroPsychiatric Center (NPC), and moving into a Crisis Residential Unit (CRU), she was referred to Healthcare for the Homeless - Houston (HHH).

It was there at HHH that her life changed.

Twelve years later, at HHH's 5th Annual HeART & Harmony Event, Garner gave her testimony.

"I now have my Associates in Human Services Technology, a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology, and I'm working on my Masters in Non-Profit Management."

It wasn't all easy for Garner.

After initIally seeking help from HHH, and getting her own place, she relapsed and went back to jail. 

It was in April, 2008 that she made up her mind to never look back.

"My Cidney Aae, helped save my life," Garner says tearfully.

Cidney Aae, a case manager at HHH, never gave up on Garner.

She worked with Garner despite her two-year relapse and run-in with the law.

When she came back, Aae worked with her until she helped her find her first condo in December 2008.

"Cidney sat with me and made calls. She and Healthcare for the Homeless helped me get my teeth. I didn't have any teeth."

Now, Garner stands as HHH's Chairman of the Advisory Board helping others like her.

HHH is a non-profit that helps give the city's homeless and marginally housed healthcare, counseling, and other support.

It's a mission that has transformed the lives of many like Garner.

Garner penned a thank you to HHH she read at HeART & Harmony.

"How can I say thank you? ... To all of you, hold through your service and your sacrifice. Share your time, your talent, and your treasure. I offer my heartfelt and sincere gratitude, for the value of your generosity I simply cannot mention."

Last year, 8,500 men, women and children received care from HHH.

They raised more than $85,000 on Thursday, to support their mission of providing accessible and comprehensive care to the homeless.