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After 30 Years of Tumult, This Formerly Homeless Man Is Sober and Rebuilding His Life Thanks to Whole Person Care

Published June 20, 2019
  • Success Stories
  • Whole Person Care

Tommy Lee


The rate of premature death in Shasta County is 52 percent higher than the United States as a whole. After more than 30 years of using meth and experiencing several bouts of homelessness, Redding resident Tommy Lee, 52, was headed toward becoming another statistic. Until he became a Whole Person Care client.

“I would be homeless or probably dead if it wasn’t for them,” he said.

When he first met his Whole Person Care team, Tommy’s health condition was dire due to his drug use and lack of shelter. His diabetes was out of control because he wasn’t taking meds or going to appointments. His PTSD, which stems from a violent incident he experienced at 16, was overwhelming, and his depression led to several hospitalizations due to suicide attempts.

“I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t want to live that way anymore,” he said. “But I didn’t know how to get out of it.”

With the help of Whole Person Care, Tommy has rented a place at an About Time Recovery sober living home since March of 2018 and has maintained his sobriety that entire time. His health condition has significantly improved, he has regular medical and mental health treatment, and he’s starting to learn how to live his life without drugs.



Shasta County’s Whole Person Care pilot helps eligible people who’ve been hospitalized numerous times due to their poor health. People who are eligible are assigned a small team that includes a registered nurse, a medical case manager and housing case manager who work with the client to develop a plan to help that person’s wellness.

Whole Person Care is an inter-agency partnership between Shasta County’s Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), Shasta Community Health Center and Hill Country Health and Wellness.

Tommy’s Whole Person Care team helped him in the following ways: 

  • They got him into HHSA's Crisis Residential and Recovery Center, a place where he could rest, participate in the social rehab program and focus on dealing with his last crisis. It was there, he says, he was able to get his diabetes under control.
  • They helped him locate resources to stay at the About Time Recovery home.
  • They helped him develop a source of income through Social Security benefits.
  • They helped him schedule appointments with an eye doctor, and he now uses bifocals.
  • They helped make monthly dental appointments for nearly a year to rebuild his teeth, which had been severely damaged due to his years on the streets.
  • They helped him apply for CalFresh food benefits and other resources.
  • They provided transportation and support so he wouldn’t miss medical appointments.

“The key part was they were all accessible any time I need to call them or figure something out,” he said. “Now, I have a place to live, bought a car, got my driver’s license back – for someone like me these are huge milestones.”

The Path Forward

With About Time Recovery, Tommy says he is doing the work to stay sober: going to meetings, using a sponsor, and making good choices.

About half of Whole Person Care clients have been permanently housed, but Tommy says it takes time to address the lingering harms that come with long periods of homelessness.

He’s learning basic life skills such as cooking his own meals, shopping for groceries, and budgeting that many take for granted. Since he started using drugs heavily when he was still a minor, these are skills he never developed.

While he has long way to go to achieve his goals of being self-sufficient, he finally has hope and sees a path forward.

“When I was homeless, depression would hit me so bad, so I’d just get back into drugs. It’s a vicious cycle,” he said. “But now I have the time, structure and support to rebuild my life.”  

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