Gilmore had a job and an apartment…he always felt good about working hard. He was a small engine mechanic with a job in a Hilo shop, but on Christmas eve of 2008, he was let go. Just like that. Gilmore had some savings, and he paid his rent with it, thinking he’d get more work. “I was ashamed when I didn’t get a job and I kept applying places. I didn’t know what to do, and finally my landlord said I had to move out because I was back on rent. I gave most of my stuff away and put the rest in my car. I started sleeping there.”
He started parking his car in different places in Hilo, taking a shower at the pool, and living off the rest of his savings. He was applying for jobs, but nothing panned out. Mostly he parked at the baseball park, saying it was a little safe haven. He got depressed and ashamed, and he was drinking and smoking pot more and more. Eventually he tried ice. During that time, he’d see Sabrina Cantan, from HOPE Services homeless outreach (then OSM Care-A-Van), stopping in to see if folks needed help. “I always said no… you know I didn’t want to take any help…I wanted to figure it out on my own. But then after six months of living in my car, I was feeling really low. I thought maybe I did need some help. I was finally ready, …I didn’t know how to fix this.” He tried to apply at Kihei Pua Homeless Shelter, but there was no room for single men. Sabrina told Gilmore about HOPE’s renter’s education classes, that he would be eligible for financial help with if he finished. So he started attending classes. Determined, Gilmore went to all of them…while living in his car. When that was over, Sabrina told him about a computer class, and he did that too. “I just wanted to keep my mind busy, keep moving forward, in a good direction”.
A spot eventually opened up at the shelter and for the first time in a long time, Gilmore had a bed to sleep in. He kept taking classes… First Aid, CPR, and then enrolled in HOPES’s Employment Readiness and Incentive Program (ERIP) where he worked hard on each job. Gilmore started attending a local church and one of the members offered him a work in his landscaping business.
Today, with the help of HOPE Services Hawaii, he has an apartment of his own, and has kept his job. His goal is to have his own landscaping business, and he says with pride “I have a small truck and a few tools. A few neighbors see the work I do and have asked me to work for them…so I have a few customers too. “ Gilmore visibly wells up with tears when asked about HOPE Services Hawaii. “I can’t say enough about the help they have given me. All I can say is that I am grateful.”