North Texas Daily

From both angles

From both angles

January 16
20:12 2017

Amy Roh | Staff Writer

Myles Wood, 29, arrives at the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen by 8 a.m. on West Oak Street to cook, chat and comfort. As usual, the day is expected to be fast-paced, even at this early of an hour.

As senior program coordinator at ODB, Wood reviews upcoming tasks depending on what services are being offered that day. The center offers medical visits, agency visits, and fundraising efforts for the homeless, so there’s a lot for Wood to keep track of.

When 11 a.m. rolls around, the vast stream of clients start to arrive. The ODB kitchen serves an average of 200 meals a day to the homeless, Monday through Saturday. Sometimes, there is barely any room for people to stand. But those who are still hungry are welcome to have seconds.

After that Wood answers emails, catches up on client intakes and works with anyone that might show up late. To him, he just cares that these people are cared for.

He inputs data, files paperwork and meets with other staff members.

By 2 p.m., his day begins to wind down, but his mind continues to race. Although his days are booked and dedicated to ODB, he’s still happy.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Wood said. “I enjoy the people that I work with, I enjoy the people that I work for and I truly believe in the mission of Our Daily Bread and anything I can do to help them out. I’m more than happy.”

It wasn’t always like this. Within the small staff that mans ODB in Denton, Wood is the only member who has been on the other side of the soup kitchen.

Wood used to rely on organizations like OBD. He was once homeless and looked for help from others. Now, he truly understands struggles and challenges people who come through ODB face every day instead of just attempting to understand.

“It’s actually one of the reasons I don’t want to leave [because] I don’t know who could relate [with the clients] as well as I do,” Wood said.

After struggling with homelessness, Wood now serves the people in the same situation, while working toward his own growth.

“He’s getting exposed to a new arena and he’s embracing it,” ODB executive director Brenda Jackson said.

Changing times

Wood was born in Louisiana in the Woodlands, just north of Houston. He lived in Lewisville in 2010 until the end of the summer of 2012, when his situation changed. Towards the end of 2012, Wood became homeless due to poorly handled mental health issues and PTSD.

“The 2004-2005 year, when I was a junior, I had gotten in wreck with my father and he was nearly killed by it,” Woods said. “What I saw scarred me and I’ve been dealing with PTSD ever since. I’d been doing a lot of couch surfing and not really living anywhere for numerous years.”

Because most of his family lived in Houston at the time, Wood did not have anyone around him that was able to help him out. After dropping out of the University of Texas at Dallas, Wood was left with no financial support and turned to various organizations, like the Salvation Army, for help. The Salvation Army in Lewisville did not offer shelter for visitors, so Wood made his way to ODB in Denton.

“I just kind of followed the crowd when we had to leave [the center], because they told me that it would be the place to get something to eat and get out of the heat,” Wood said.

Myles Wood eats his lunch while answering phone calls. Ruben Paquian

Myles Wood eats his lunch while answering phone calls. Ruben Paquian

The few years before Wood finally reached ODB were the worst years of his life. During that time, Wood had become legally blind. His contacts, which became “ancient,” had degraded and ruined his eyesight.

Years of battling at the helm of his PTSD and physical health issues led Wood’s heart to stop three different times.

“They always reached out and tried to help me,” Wood said. “That’s when I started seeing the love of Our Daily Bread.”

Through ODB, Wood applied for a housing program, called Connections, with the Denton County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center. The center, which serves people with a mental health condition or developmental disability diagnosis, advised Wood and a few others to volunteer in local areas. For Wood, ODB was his obvious choice.

“Once my health started getting better and I felt like I could do more, I thought, ‘I need to give back to the people who helped get me to this point,’” Wood said.

Giving back

After a steady growth from volunteer to assistant, Wood now serves as the senior program coordinator for ODB. He said ODB has given him a family here in Denton as well as a sense of true fulfillment that comes with interacting with clients.

“[A great part] is seeing a person actually succeed with whatever difficulty that person comes to me with,” Wood said. “It’s amazing to see that problem being resolved and knowing these people are better than when they first came to me.”

According to those he works alongside, ODB is proud to see the progress that Wood has cultivated over the years.

“ODB is so very proud of Myles,” communications admin Sharon Kremer said. “We wouldn’t be what we are without his spirit.”

Wood currently goes home every night to the housing provided by the program that urged him to utilize his skills and volunteer at ODB. He’s able to see whose lives he’s impacting now with the help of glasses provided by ODB’s medical services. In the future, Wood hopes to go back to school in order to earn a degree in social work.

It’s not a place he thought he would be in, but Wood is excited for what’s to come.

“I never thought I would go for a degree like that, but I’ve found that I love this job,” Wood said. “There are times that make me want to beat my head against the wall because I’m so frustrated, but I go home feeling good, motivated and happy to go to work every single day.”

Featured Image: Volunteer Nancy Chumbly (left), Myles Wood (center), and volunteer Michele Burton (right) Look through the database of clients they use to organize forms and stir records. Ruben Paquian

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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