STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Pacific House homeless shelter in Stamford celebrated its 30th anniversary Friday, and one of those people celebrating was a former resident who now works at the shelter.
Matthew Monte turned to the shelter after his life had spiraled downward when he and his wife both lost their jobs while working in Florida.
He moved back to Fairfield County, but it didn't help as he said he "made a few mistakes" that landed him in jail. A little more than a year ago, Monte was released from jail and found himself staying at Pacific House.
"At this point I was beyond despair," he told an audience gathered for a celebration at the shelter. "I had no feelings at all."
That despair turned into hope as Monte said staff at the shelter helped him to get back on his feet by offering resume and job opportunity support. He said that program, which that got him back into the workforce, not only saw him earning money but also gaining self respect.
"The way I can describe it as if you are underwater and all of sudden you come to the surface, all of a sudden it popped," Monte said. "I didn't have that despair, didn't care feeling anymore. I said, 'Wow, I'm important now too.' "
Mayor David Martin proclaimed Friday as "Shelter for the Homeless Day" at the event.
Martin said he had helped to paint a dorm room at the shelter soon after it opened. But the mayor admitted he hasn't visited the shelter much since then but made a commitment to lend his time to the cause in the future.
The Shelter for the Homeless is the only regional shelter in lower Fairfield County serving the four-town area of Stamford, Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan. Pacifc House shelter typically houses 60 to 82 men, and can accommodate up to 110 men during extreme-weather months. It provides overnight emergency beds for men, and operates a drop-in day program that provides case management services for men and women.
Its doors are open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Pacific House is located at 597 Pacific St. in Stamford. For more information, call 203-348-2792 or 203-406-001 or visit its website .