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Corvallis Man Finds Health & Hope

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Samuel Salinas can’t recall ever feeling this settled or hopeful.

His room at Van Buren House in Corvallis is quiet and safe. After living on the streets in Albany for four years and a lifelong battle with alcoholism, Salinas is finally resting more easily.

Salinas grew up in a home where his parents’ use of alcohol created an unstable and sometimes unsafe environment. Salinas served in the military and later worked as a contractor building homes. He got married and had four kids. But his drinking created problems. Things got worse after the death of his teenage son in 2002. Feelings of depression led to poor choices that affected his relationships and eventually led to homelessness.

In the fall of 2018, Salinas ended up in the Emergency Department at Samaritan Albany General Hospital with diabetic complications. Lab results indicated Salinas had another serious illness. But attempts to locate him were unsuccessful because he didn’t have an address. Then, Samaritan’s Home Transitions team was summoned.

A nurse tracked down Salinas and arranged to meet him at a local park. She brought the lab results and encouraged him to seek immediate medical care.

When social worker Anita Earl learned of Salinas’s circumstances, she knew that he would only get better if they could find a place where his basic needs were met: shelter, food, medicine and emotional support.

“Would you like help?” Earl asked Salinas.

“Yes,” Salinas said. “Please, come get me.”

Earl contacted Corvallis Housing First, an agency that helps people transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. She arranged for Salinas to stay in a medical respite bed (a community service that is supported financially by Samaritan Health Services) until long-term housing could be secured.

During a recent conversation at Van Buren House, Salinas, 58, said he is grateful to be able to walk and bike from his new apartment in Corvallis while he undergoes radiation treatment for liver cancer. If he needs a ride to an appointment, there are many people he can ask.

“It’s like someone dug me up out of the ground,” he said.

Not long ago, Salinas said he was too embarrassed to go to the doctor. Now, dignity has been restored for this father and veteran. He can shower, wash his clothes and cook something to eat at home.

Samaritan’s Home Transitions team continues to support his health care needs. Another source of strength has come from the United Pentecostal Church in Corvallis, which he attends regularly.

“I am really grateful for everyone’s support,” Salinas said.

He wishes more people could receive the care he’s been given.

Salinas wants to become like the people who never gave up on him, possibly by supporting other local people in need.

“I would love to help other people,” he said. “I don’t know what that’s going to be yet.”