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Former homeless shelter guest now newest employee

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – The newest member of staff at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter is a former guest of the shelter.

”I never cooked in my life, I cooked breakfast, that was it. Now at times we can cook for 150 people,” said Jeffrey Kasper, BAHS employee.

Kasper says his life has changed dramatically since he went on medical leave from his retail job in Bangor in 2018.

”Went on short term disability because of my back,” Kasper said.

His injuries did not improve and he was denied long-term disability. Soon, he found himself homeless.

”I didn’t have any money whatsoever, and I was staying with friends off and on here and there so I was bouncing around. Man that was scary as could be, not knowing where you’re gonna be,” Kasper said.

Kasper turned to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter for help.

”After about three weeks here I started cooking and helping out around the kitchen,” Kasper said.

In 2019, Kasper was able to get housing again.

”We helped get him a voucher and found him a place, and like a lot of folks do, once he got a place he continued to come back and ask to help out,” said Boyd Kronholm, BAHS executive director.

”Been volunteering for over two years now. In a safe place, I felt happier, I knew everything to do and I said, ‘I think I’m ready to get back to work,’” Kasper said.

After volunteering for around two years, BAHS offered him a permanent position.

”We have quite a few people on staff here who were guests here and then volunteered and came back to work. It’s really a neat thing to see,” Kronholm said.

”Every day there’s somebody out there that needs help. You learn their story and that helps out to understand the person,” Kasper said.

”Kasper is a great example of someone who was just down on his luck and needed a hand up and now he’s willing to give other folks a hand up,” Kronholm said.

Kasper says he’s grateful for the support he’s received, and hopes his story will encourage others facing tough times.

”A lot of people wouldn’t have anything or any hope if they didn’t have this place here. I have housing, I have a job now, staying sober, I’m doing good,” Kasper said.

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