Sgt. Russ was in the Army National Guard and was called up to serve his country in Iraq, which he proudly did. Russ saw and did a lot there, but when he got home, things were different.
Russ had fallen on hard times in California, went through several divorces and decided he needed a change of scene and moved back to his roots in the Glens Falls region.
Russ had a dream of opening up a sandwich shop locally.
Russ thought he had his finances in order.
Russ thought wrong.
His funding fell through and that's when things came unglued.
He had no money and while his girlfriend lived locally, her landlord wouldn’t allow him to stay there. The realization sunk in. Russ was homeless.
Shortly thereafter, his girlfriend was kicked out of her apartment and so, both were homeless and living out of a car, with what little they had. They spent hours watching the traffic in and out of the Code Blue Shelter on Warren Street in Glens Falls.
"I just wanted to see what it was about, I really hate the cold, but was afraid to go in," Russ said.
When it became unbearable, Russ and his girlfriend finally sought refuge. This started a six-week odyssey. It was a hard pill for him to swallow, being a prideful man who worked hard his whole life.
But he kept his focus and soon landed a job with the help of a Code Blue volunteer and a year later, was purchasing his own home. "I can’t say enough about Open Door Mission and the help I received. If I needed food they were there, they even found someone who helped pay my phone bill, so I could keep looking for work and answer inquiries.”
Just as Russ was getting his life on track, tragedy struck his family last summer in California. His 22-year-old daughter was allegedly murdered by her stepbrother. So Russ has put his home up for sale and is looking to move back to California to support his other grown children and try to bring each other comfort in the dark days ahead.
making lives whole again