Cambridge resident Kendrick, 41, told business and community leaders his inspiring story of recovery. Members and friends of the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund (CHAF) recently learned that this neighbor and youth football coach was formerly homeless and wants to spend his life “paying back the community.”
In an interview, Kendrick said that coaching football is a great bonding experience, “It gives me a feeling of togetherness and love. I do it for my sons and the other kids on the team. It gives me a sense of giving back to the community.”
Kendrick has an interesting story. Although he came from a loving family and had a solid relationship with his mother and grandmother, he often bounced back and forth between both homes. At 15, Kendrick made the decision to live on his own. “My mother said ‘you’ll be back.’ I never came back, but I went through a lot of rough things on my own,” he explained. Despite the turmoil, he managed to get his high school diploma. However, he did attend four different high schools before graduating: Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Jamaica Plain, Brighton, and South Boston.
He never had a problem with drugs or alcohol while living on the streets. Unfortunately though, he did become involved with the wrong crowd, which landed him in jail for a short period of time.
Now Kendrick wants to tell his story so that others can learn from it. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know how to fight for myself. Now that I’m older I’m trying to straighten it out.”
According to Kendrick, having kids was the start of his recovery. “After I had kids, I was running into problems,” he recalled. “I found myself living with friends and realized I needed a place of my own.”
After that realization, Kendrick entered the St. Francis House where a counselor connected him to many support services, including HomeStart. Through HomeStart, Kendrick was able to take part in the Boston University sponsored study, “Life Skills: Transitioning from Homelessness and Isolation to Housing Stability and Community Integration,” funded by The National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
Elizabeth Auth, a researcher and interventionist with the Life Skills program explained, “Kendrick has completed the entire program, all four modules, and is now taking on a different role.” He is a peer-leader in the program and co-facilitates the sessions with other HomeStart clients. He is also consulting with staff on the recruitment process to bring more people into the program.
Working with HomeStart since 2007, Kendrick has his own apartment after living on the streets for over 20 years. He lives with his sons Kendrick Jr. and Kenaalli, and has a chance to get full custody of his other two sons, Kumani and Kenei. He is now enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College where he will be studying their culinary arts program.