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Plymouth NEWS SPRING EDITION 2011 A chaotic childhood and youth led to prison, but today Cleveland enjoys his hard-won freedom living at Plymouth Housing Group Cleveland H., a 62-year-old resident of Plymouth, has the good looks of an entertainer, the grace of a dancer, and a way with words you might associate with a professor or a preacher. But most of his life has been spent in trouble with the law and drugs. “I’ve never had a problem getting things,” he says. “It’s keeping them that’s been tough.” It all began with a chaotic childhood. Cleveland never knew his father. At various times he lived with his great-grandmother, his grandmother, and his mother. Living with his mother meant being beaten by his alcoholic stepfather. As a teen, Cleveland shuttled between reform school and foster homes. Not surprisingly, Cleveland graduated from juvenile delinquency to adult crime. He found himself in the Virginia State penitentiary in the 1960s, an era when the state still had chain gangs. “I was out there with chains and a water boy—the whole thing,” he says. Drugs, alcohol, and prison continued to be the themes of Cleveland’s life for more than four decades. He was living in Seattle with his longtime girlfriend in 2008 when an evening of drinking led to an arrest. “I knew I had to change,” he says. He told his caseworker he wanted to go into alcohol treatment, and on the day he was released, he went right into a treatment program. When he was done, one of the biggest challenges Cleveland faced was finding a permanent place to live. He dreaded returning to the street, where it was hard to keep clean and out of trouble. “I knew that with a prison record, landlords just won’t take you,” he says. That’s where Plymouth stepped in. “I just needed a chance,” he recalls. “They gave it to me, and I’m so grateful that they did.” In June 2010 Cleveland moved into his own home in the Gatewood Apartments. After years of eating fast food, he’s learning to cook nutritious meals to control his diabetes. He keeps a notebook of his activities, and has befriended a stray cat. Every day he attends AA meetings and recently appeared before a King County legislative forum to speak in support of the rehabilitation and treatment programs that are in danger of “I’ve come a long way from sleeping in a being cut. cardboard box under a bridge,” Cleveland says. SEATTLE DANCES! RAISES OVER $425,000 FOR PLYMOUTH PROGRAMS TEAM PHOTOGENIC Left to right: Mary Stevens & John Akin, Seattle Dances! Evening Honorees, were recognized for their long time commitment to Plymouth Housing Group and to ending homelessness in Seattle; Susan Slater Cotter and Josh Welter won the Judges’ Choice Trophy. See inside for more details about the event. DOUG PLUMMER A new life at the Gatewood Apartments helps Plymouth resident keep on the road to recovery

Plymouth Housing Group Spring 2011 News

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