"I'm so proud to call this a home of my very own"
I smile when I remember the first time I nervously stepped foot into Celadon at 929 9th Avenue. I walked into the building after I had applied nearly a year before construction completed and was added to a wait list. I remember the sense of excitement I had when I first received the call (a year after I applied), that I would have a chance to be able to move into a unit.
I was intimidated as I entered the lobby at Celadon because I didn’t feel like I was “good enough” to live in the well-manicured building. The eco-friendly, Orchid Architecture Award-winner proudly stands with the largest solar panel in North America. The building is in the heart of Downtown San Diego and is at a prime location; I thought only the the upper-class lived on this side of the train tracks that split through the two sides of the East Village neighborhood.
I remember stepping through the door to find a tall smiling gentleman named Isaiah — he was head of security. He had broad shoulders, a perfectly-pressed black suit, and a memorably kind smile as I entered that afternoon. The smile helped quiet the negative self-talk that was in my head. He asked how he could help. And I said I was moving in. His response with a warm smile was: “Welcome Mister Garcia."
I opened the door of my new apartment to find a space flooded with the warm afternoon sunlight of a late September afternoon. The high ceilings and full kitchen were a dream come true for me. From that day forward I have been, and continue to be, humbled (and thankful) that I am a resident here.
My life has taken some unexpected twists and turns, as people’s lives often do. I worked very hard for many years, for NBC Nightly News, and I graduated from New York University the day before the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001.
Unexpected hardships came my way after watching the two towers of the World Trade Center collapse before my eyes. I watched from my 28th floor bedroom window with an overwhelming sense of sadness for the people who died as the flames and smoke overwhelmed tower 1 — but then right after, a crippling fear set in when tower 2 was hit. Ever since I have never quite been the same.
I have struggled with my mental health for many years. And though I struggle every day, I do the best to live as deliberately, as centered and has healthy as I can.
I still see the side of the World Trade Center with the massive hole with smoke and flames rising on that crisp September morning. I relive those seconds, and moments, and days all the time in my head. The fear, the sadness, the helplessness violently hijacked my life
But now I call Celadon my home; and this place has given me so much of what I needed in my life since I arrived here. A safe, comfortable place for me to sleep at night; a place to enjoy my friends every day in an environment that is has a supportive team of employees and residents who understand.
Everyone from the manager Armando, to the maintenance and security staff have made me feel happy and safe since I moved in two years ago.
Thank you BRIDGE Housing, for giving me a home, for making me feel safe and special in a world that otherwise can be unforgiving and cold.
Thank you for caring and housing people like me; your work is so incredibly important. Because although no human lives a life free of pain or hardship — some of us experience things that make life so painful that without a little help, we wouldn’t make it, we would fall through the cracks.
Every time I walk through my front door, I’m reminded that there are people who work hard behind the scenes to make this place possible. Thank you so very, very much!
Many thanks to Damien for offering to share his words, photos and video on BRIDGEtownBack to all stories