Homelessness is not hopelessness for one Midlands man

Jaquan Riley. Photo courtesy of Transitions Homeless Center.

Transitions Homeless Shelter offers day services and beds for homeless adults in the greater Columbia area. Along with food, residential, and legal services, Transitions has an employment program to secure jobs for those who are looking for work but need a steady place to start.

The Transitions board of directors held a volunteer leader awards luncheon Tuesday afternoon, to honor volunteers, partners, and benefactors who have made a difference for the organization.

The shelter’s CEO, Craig Curry began the ceremony sharing Transitions’ belief that, “fighting homelessness is a team sport.”

Before presenting awards, one outstanding success story of Transitions was honored for his accomplishments. Jaquan Riley, from St. Matthews, SC moved to Columbia at the age of 15 to better his relationship with his father. After a turn of events, he found himself homeless in 2015. Riley spoke about his experience of being homeless. “I didn’t have support…I felt like I was carrying a burden by myself,” he said.

Alone and with nowhere to turn, Riley got a job at a local Bi-Lo, making $152 a week. He recounted sleeping in cars, motels, buildings, and eventually on the streets.

Finally, he came across Transitions, where Riley said he saw the change he was looking for. He credited the shelter for helping him get on his feet, saying, “when everyone else shut the door on me, Transitions took me in.” Riley was set up with an eight-month internship with AgFirst Farm Credit Bank.  Recently he was able to move into a full-time position with the company in August.

Riley said he feels that he is a voice for hundreds in the Midlands, and closed his speech emphasizing his belief that love for one another is the catalyst of change.

Categories: Columbia, Richland County

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