From Homeless to Hopeful: John Crankfield Finds Joy in Life’s Little Things

John Crankfield was homeless once, and he has come to realize that the best parts of life can be found in the little things: “I am thankful for every day.”

Today, Crankfield now lives in a furnished apartment, is employed and enrolled in business administration courses at Forsyth Technical Community College in hopes of earning a degree.

Crankfield, 52, receives Monarch services through the Individual Placement Support (IPS) staff which includes Reina Williams-Talley, an employment peer mentor, and Brian Holloway, lead employment support professional, at the behavioral health location located in Forsyth County. The IPS staff works in collaboration with the behavioral health professionals to assist people in achieving their personal and professional goals.

During the past year, the pair has watched Crankfield make great strides. “If we made a plan and this is what we set out to complete, we did it. He doesn’t make excuses,” Holloway described Crankfield’s motivation.

Homeless while living in Florida and struggling with depressive symptoms, Crankfield initially moved to North Carolina in 2007 to be closer to a sister, who lives near Winston-Salem. He had lived temporarily with a friend’s family and his sister while trying to get back on his feet with a place to live and employment.

His determination has helped him plan for a brighter future. A year ago, Crankfield began working at Dollar General as a cashier / associate with responsibilities that include checking out customers, product replenishment and store organization. Traveling about an hour each way by bus to work, Crankfield enjoys working with customers and likes to find ways to improve his job performance. He is currently saving a portion of his earnings to purchase a car.

Holloway worked with Crankfield to increase his confidence to better advocate for himself and navigate situations within the workplace, as well as help secure transportation to work. Williams-Talley connected Crankfield to community services to receive food, medical care and home furnishings, too.

Williams-Talley and Crankfield found a common bond in losing loved ones and ultimately both attended a grief group therapy offered through MCO partner Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. Williams-Talley experienced the death of her husband and son, and Crankfield lost his 28-year-old son tragically. Support from the group along with talking through their grief together, helped.

Crankfield believes that Holloway and Williams-Talley have been instrumental in helping him deal with life struggles. “I am grateful for the journey from where I was to where I am now . . . I am motivated to be self-sufficient,” he expressed. “There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. And, even if life knocks you down, you have to be motivated to get back up again.”

Crankfield has not only gained valuable life accomplishments, but in the process gained friends. “Before I was really a lot more depressed and I was dealing with stuff on my own,” he said. “Brian and Reina cheer me on. I feel more secure now. I have really come to look at them as more than sponsors, but friends and confidants.”

What advice does Crankfield offer to others who might find themselves in a similar life situation?

“Reach out for help through a program like Monarch’s. Brian and Reina have provided a lot of support and I don’t have to figure out things by myself,” he said. “It can be a difficult thing and your pride gets in the way . . . but once you conquer those obstacles, help makes life a little easier.”

For more information about IPS services and locations within Monarch, please call (866) 272-7826.

Photo caption: John Crankfield appreciates the assistance he has received through Individual Placement and Support (IPS) staff in Forsyth County.