Troy has had six hip replacements, both shoulders replaced, both knees replaced, three neck surgeries, two back surgeries, a blood clot in his left calf, and severe arthritis in his right foot, ankles, hands, and most recently his neck and shoulders. Some days it feels like it’s enough just to keep his body together but that’s not enough for Troy.
“I have been fundraising since I was five years old. I wanted to be the king at my school and so I had to fundraise. My mother told me if I wanted to do it, I had to get out there and help. So I did and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Troy’s work ethic, positive attitude, sense of gratitude, and spirit of giving back are extraordinary. And he’s grateful for and determined to give back to PRC.
How did this all begin? In 1999, when Troy had only been living in San Francisco for a short time, he got really sick and landed in the hospital with Pneumocystis Pneumonia. He was in a coma for two months. The doctors didn’t think he’d make it but he did.
“It’s been a long recovery, and it’s still ongoing. The very drug that is keeping me alive is also deteriorating the majority of my joints. Some days the pain is unreal.” Troy’s condition has made it impossible for him to work. Sometimes it takes three hours simply to get dressed in the morning. But he pushes through it.
“My mother always said: only the strong survive.” Troy is grateful he has what he needs: a home, food, healthcare. Over the years, when Troy couldn’t make ends meet, he received help from what was then known as AIDS Emergency Fund, now PRC’s Emergency Financial Assistance program.
Troy has also taken numerous PRC classes over the years to learn the ins and outs of insurance and receiving disability, as well as employment training, even earning his notary public license. Most recently, he took part in the LiftUP SF peer training program for community health workers. Troy found the experience to be eye-opening. “The focus on learning how to be patient and how to listen, to really hear someone completely through before responding and to be thoughtful about your response: it can be daunting but it was a good challenge.”
For all the assistance Troy has received, he gives back even more. He does a remarkable amount of volunteering, including maintaining his AIDS Walk “star walker” status of fundraisers of $1,000 and more, on PRC’s team for a truly impressive 20 years. Troy also serves on the advisory board of Project Homeless Connect and manages their Reading Glasses Program. He can often be spotted handing out sandwiches to those less fortunate in his neighborhood, with a smile, a hand shake, and words of encouragement.
“People see me out smiling even though it’s been a challenge to get around with my body falling apart. But I’m here, and that’s the good part. With LiftUP, I now have the tools to work with people on the streets, to ask what they need.” Recalling one recent instance in which Troy brought reading glasses to a man who was struggling, Troy describes how the man’s face lit up. “Knowing that I did that, that I have everything I need, so if someone else needs something, I can help.”
Troy would like to do something on a larger scale, to reach people who don’t access help easily. He’s still figuring out what that is. “But LiftUP has given me the tools to do that, hopefully in a better way.”
Troy describes how PRC was a really big catalyst to getting him to where he is now. “We don’t have a lot of agencies that deal with AIDS and give people with it a chance to be in the world in a positive way. PRC: they guide people really well, and I’m really grateful they’re here.”
You can help guide individuals like Troy to do positive in the world. Consider making a donation to support PRC.