‘I just wanted to take care of myself’

Desmond WestDesmond West had always pulled his own weight. Tall and barrel-chested, the burly North Carolina native drove a truck and ran his own carpet cleaning business.

But shortly after moving to Atlanta in 2008, Desmond’s strength began failing him. It started taking him a long time to finish jobs. His vision was getting blurry and the quality of his work decreased. He began losing contracting jobs and had to start living out of his van. Then his vision dramatically worsened and Desmond knew he had to get help.

That’s when he found MUST Ministries. A bed was available at the Elizabeth Inn Shelter and MUST got him to a doctor who diagnosed his out-of-control diabetes and prescribed medication.

Yet Desmond needed something else. Because of his vision loss, he couldn’t go back to the work he knew, but he didn’t want to live on disability the rest of his life either.

An employment specialist at MUST helped him find a way forward.

“She discovered me,” Desmond says. “Whenever she saw me, she wanted to know how I was doing. She was always steering me in the right direction.”

The employment specialist helped Desmond get into MUST’s Permanent Supportive Housing, so he had a place to call his own. When he finished a training program for the visually impaired, he found a job in Atlanta and was able to move once again into his own apartment.

“It was all too good to be true,” Desmond recalls. “I was preparing for the worst. Living in a shelter was going to be my life. I just wanted to take care of myself. I wanted my independence back. I can’t envision where I would be if MUST wasn’t there in my time of need.

“We need organizations like MUST,” Desmond adds. “There are some of us out there who really want to make a change for the better. Circumstances have gotten us down and we just need a little bit of a helping hand, a little guidance to get us back on our feet.

“To all the people and organizations that support MUST, I say thank you. I’m a product of the seed you planted.”

You can change a life! Just donate today or sign up to volunteer in Employment Services at

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