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Journey from homelessness

Local Davenport man reflects on the nights he spent on the street

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Four years ago, Matthew Powell never thought he'd have clean clothes, a bed and a job.

At the time, he was living on the street and sleeping wherever he could find a spot out of the wind. Usually, he'd sleep by the river, tucked away in a corner of of the Modern Woodmen Park fence. 

"I would go up in this little alcove here in the corner and wrap up in blankets and that's where I'd spend nights sometimes," he said. 

Homeless, hopeless and helpless, Powell said his alcoholism led him to give up his life. 

"I didn't want to be homeless. I didn't set out to be that way, but when you exhaust all your resources, family, friends, [and] cash on hand that can happen," he said.

One day muggers took what little cash he had. Battered and bruised, he decided he was done and walked to Centennial Bridge. 

"I didn't want to be homeless anymore. I didn't want to live in this nightmare anymore. Then I headed up the bridge with the full intent of jumping," Powell said. "God had other plans and a couple people walked me off the bridge and told me, 'You're not doing this.'" 

That was the turning point. 

Powell got help at the Robert Young Center before moving to One Eighty, where he works and lives today. He said those programs saved his life, but are resources  not enough people on the streets know about. 

"I had no clue what resources were available," he said. "I didn't know where the homeless shelters were. I didn't know anything. All I did was walk around and panhandle." 

Now four years sober, Powell looks at his life differently. While he once saw the Centennial Bridge as a way out, now he looks at it and feels victorious. 

"I'm not that guy anymore," Powell said. "I'm changed and that's because of Jesus. That's because of my relationship with Jesus. I'm not that guy. I'm not homeless. I'm not worthless. I have purpose and I love life today." 


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