By Erin and Cleadus Shelton, HUD CES Program Manager and Vice President, WestCare California
Cleadus and I met in 2005 at his company’s party. In time, we became inseparable. He was on federal probation for a previous crime, but was doing well. It was in 2006 when his friend passed away that it took a turn for the worse.
We both turned to drugs and alcohol. His probation required drug testing and group meetings, but he was no longer reporting. So, we went on the run. Since both of our families knew he was a wanted man, we ended up becoming homeless traveling up and down the Central Valley. In August of 2006, we were caught and our lives began to change.
He was charged with absconding parole and I was charged with harboring a fugitive. We both went to County Jail. I was released after a few days, but he had to stay a while longer. He was sentenced to 180 days in prison and 90 days of treatment. As a client of WestCare, he learned the tools that were necessary to recover. We attended family group every Friday and learned how we could change together.
When he completed residential in 2007, we faced the struggles that many face. I was working, but he couldn’t find a job due to his background. After six months in a recovery residence, he found work, moved home and we began to piece our lives together.
After a year of sobriety, Cleadus went to college to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He became certified in 2009 and began an internship with WestCare. From there, he served with AmeriCorps, became a men’s SOD for WestCare, and earned the title of counselor. He would receive promotions in 2012 to Men’s Coordinator, in 2016 to the Director of Contract Compliance, in 2020 to Deputy Administrator, and in 2021 to Vice President!
In 2011, I was hired by WestCare as a receptionist for San Joaquin Valley Veterans. I was then promoted to case manager, where I helped homeless Vets find housing. I then worked in several housing positions. In 2017, I was promoted to Housing Matcher and in 2021, was promoted to HUD CES Program Manager. WestCare has been a blessing and we will forever be paying it forward.
In 2013, we bought our first home and in 2014, we started a real estate investment company called EVC HOMES LLC. Since then, we have successfully flipped over 54 homes and currently own 10 rental properties in addition to a beautiful residence built in Clovis, CA.
We are a long way from hopelessness today and for that, we are grateful! We get up every day humbly asking ourselves how we can help someone today.