News & Events

5/15/12 — Dann McCarthy, 2012 Achiever of the Year

Camping by a stream in a beautiful wooded area was not a weekend adventure for Dann McCarthy; it was a way of life. Dann, our Achiever of the Year, had become homeless, after caring for a terminally ill relative in St. Louis and suffering a bi-polar pulmonary embolism.

Camping by a stream in a beautiful wooded area was not a weekend adventure for Dann McCarthy; it was a way of life. Dann, our Achiever of the Year, had become homeless, after caring for a terminally ill relative in St. Louis and suffering a bi-polar pulmonary embolism.

Dann said, “I turned to the Goodwill Inn, but it was not very conducive to my lifestyle at the time because I was drinking heavily. I decided to pitch a tent and live without any basic means.” Looking back Dann explains, “it was a content time in my life…content but definitely not happy. It was not a very intelligent way to live, but since I had no money…no job…I had no responsibilities except to care for the space I was living in.”

Life for Dann dramatically changed when a mild February day turned snow to slush. At the end of the day Dann’s boots were wet and the temperature dropped to 8 degrees. During the night, his feet froze. With incredible strength, Dann crawled through the woods to the Department of Human Services, where he got assistance and was taken to the hospital. All ten toes were frost bitten, un-savable and had to be amputated.

“I went from the hospital to Grand Traverse Pavilions for rehabilitation. The people were amazing that took care of me, not only physically but emotionally,” said Dann recalling this life-changing time. “I realized that if these people care so much about me, why do I not care so much about myself? That was an awakening for me.”

Ryan Hannon, Street Outreach coordinator said, “I have worked with Dann since he was living on the streets. I am impressed with Dann. Not only is he now living independently, but he has the willingness and ability to come back and serve as a volunteer helping other people experiencing homelessness. He volunteers at a number of places, including Safe Harbor and the Pavilions and does it with a happy heart. He shows people, there is a way out…they don’t have to be trapped in homelessness.”

As Dann, recovers and regains his strength and independence, he explains, “I continue to do things to improve my life, and I do the best I can to help others.” His main goal moving forward is to find an opportunity to utilize his degrees in Fine Arts and Technology, Theatre Production, massage therapy or find work as a chef.

Ryan added, “I believe that Dann will continue to succeed because of his enormous strength and endurance. He has achieved so much and will continue to do so as he becomes more independent. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of being the Achiever of the Year.”

In memory Dann McCarthy, 1967 – 2012

 

 

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