“House of Ruth was always there for me, and I’m grateful for them. In a lot of ways, I don’t know where I would be without them.” – Dwight Taylor, House of Ruth Client
Last month, we sat down with our long-time client, Dwight, who shared his story with the community. “My name is Dwight Taylor,” he began. “I’m originally from New York, from the Bronx.”
Dwight lived in the Bronx during the beginnings of hip hop and explored a rap career as a young man. Unfortunately, he became involved in crime and began doing hard drugs. When Dwight’s son was born, he knew he had to get clean and decided to move to Louisville. “After I got down here, I stayed clean for about a year,” Dwight said, but ultimately, he was pulled back to drugs. His struggles with addiction continued for many years.
Nearly 17 years ago, Dwight was diagnosed with HIV. He remembered the doctor conveying his positive diagnosis and then leaving him to process the news. “I thought I was dying,” Dwight recalled. “All I can remember is bursting into tears.” In addition to his addiction, Dwight had been struggling with diabetes. Very shortly after his HIV diagnosis, Dwight woke up to almost complete vision loss.
At his lowest point, Dwight attempted to end his life.
“My Life Goes On”
It was Dr. Anna Huang who first referred Dwight to House of Ruth. He recalled Dr. Huang’s stern warning that she would only treat him if he promised to stay clean. “This isn’t a death sentence,” she told him. “I’ll treat you for your diabetes and your HIV, but the drugs have to end.” For Dwight, this was a pivotal moment. “She never had to worry about it from that point on,” he said.
Dwight came to House of Ruth very shortly after his HIV diagnosis. “After coming to House of Ruth and learning how to deal with the disability and the HIV, I learned that my life goes on,” Dwight said. House of Ruth helped Dwight get education about and support for his HIV and substance abuse disorder. Peer groups who could empathize with Dwight’s struggles, and share their trials and successes, helped Dwight learn how to move forward.
At that time, Dwight got disability support for his blindness, but nearly all of his payments went toward rent. He gained custody of his daughter, which made it even more challenging to get by. House of Ruth helped his family to acquire housing, helped feed them with our food pantry, and helped get Dwight’s daughter school supplies and Christmas gifts.
A New Chapter
Since coming to House of Ruth, Dwight also dealt with losing kidney function, undergoing ten years of dialysis, and ultimately getting a kidney transplant. We were there for Dwight during hard times so that he could focus on healing and building a life for himself. He was able to earn his psychology degree and acquire his peer support certification. Dwight now works as a direct peer support specialist at Seven Counties Services and hopes to become a project coordinator. “I love my job because I get to give back what was given to me,” Dwight said.
Now, after 17 years as a client of House of Ruth, Dwight is graduating from our Long-Term Housing Program and looking for his dream home. You can watch Dwight tell his story by visiting bit.ly/unlockinghope.
You Can Help
House of Ruth is the only local organization focused on providing housing and support services to HIV-positive people and their families, and we help over 600 Louisvillians annually. When our clients unlock the door of their home, they are unlocking hope. Donations allow House of Ruth to help people like Dwight to heal and thrive until there is a vaccine and a cure for HIV/AIDS. Now until June 30, your donation does even more. For every three-year pledge of at least $100 per year, The Gheens Foundation will match your first year’s payment dollar for dollar.