Harris Allen grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, New York before he moved to North Carolina for a job as an adult. In December 2018, Harris found himself unemployed and couldn’t pay rent, which led to his eviction. He had never heard of Raleigh Rescue Mission, but on the days surrounding Christmas, he called and was accepted into the New Life Plan.
Fast forward a few years, and Harris is back in his own place, but he returns to the Mission most Saturdays to help out – working at the front desk, encouraging the men in the program, or speaking at Jobs for Life graduation.
“I like to do whatever I can to give back because the Mission was pivotal in me being who I am now,” said Harris.
The New Life Plan changed Harris primarily spiritually and financially, he said. Before the Mission, Harris believed in God but took Him out of the equation since he was doing well.
“If you don’t acknowledge Him, He’ll knock you off your high horse,” said Harris. “And that’s what happened! But I’m glad it happened.”
Harris said the spiritual focus at the Mission made a big difference in his life.
“I started realizing things I think I knew, but I wasn’t acknowledging them,” he said. “But I realized some things needed to change, the things that led to me getting evicted. When I acknowledged those, things started changing.”
Harris’ vocational work at the Mission was in the kitchen, and he became the morning chef despite his lack of cooking experience. He also took cooking classes through Wake Tech to get his SafeServ® food safety certification.
Three weeks before Harris graduated from Jobs for Life in May 2019, he was hired on the spot by the general manager of Lucky 32, who happily held the position open for Harris. After a few months, Harris changed over to a lead cook position at NCSU, where he prepped for the football and other sports teams and enjoyed getting to know the students. Harris was part of the Wolfpack for almost three years, but left once the position changed to only nine months.
Now, Harris is back in his original field of customer service and works from home for Duke Energy, but said cooking impacts his job now because it taught him a lot about interacting with people.
“I’ve always liked helping people, and I’ve always liked to see them doing well, even if I’m not doing well,” he said.
Through the New Life Plan, Harris reorganized his thoughts, behaviors, and spending habits. He learned how to make and stick to a budget, distinguishing between wants and needs.
What’s next for Harris? He’s working toward getting a car and would love to be a homeowner again through Habitat for Humanity. He’d also like to retire in a few years at age 55.
“Everything is pretty much under control for me now – I’m in a good place, and it’s thanks to the Mission.”