Overcoming Houselessness: The Inspiring Story of Bryan Penate
The freezing temperatures of several winters made Bryan quiver. But that didn’t break his soul and determination to do everything he could to get himself out of his life as a homeless man.
Bryan Penate has done it all on his own. But having the support of friends and fellow union members has helped him get back on his feet.
Bryan (38) works as a butcher at a Marina del Rey Pavilions grocery store. After six years of hard work, he was recently able to rent his own one-bedroom apartment through a Section 8 voucher.
For the last 7 years Bryan had been living in a tent that he would set up in the night anywhere close to a park, a mile away from work.
Bryan was born in Culver City, California but in the mid 90’s moved to Minnesota, and then came back to the LA area in early 2000. Since his High School years, he has experienced homelessness, living in a tent and sometimes staying with friends here and there in different states.
After graduating High School in 2003, Bryan went to college in Arizona but dropped out because of misinformation about job placement. Then he enrolled at a state college to study animation and digital design for which he had to take a $50,000 student loan. When he finally got a job, this debt was deducted from his paychecks leaving him with very little money.
Bryan moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and for years he worked odd jobs including spinning advertisements. This kind of job allowed him to travel around the country until 2016.
Then he settled in LA and applied for work at Pavilions in 2017. At the grocery store he worked in the service deli and meat department where he continues working as a butcher. After six years at the store, he has been able to fix his credit and pay his student debt.
“It’s been hard,” he reflects on his own life as a houseless person and the fact that even when he has a job he struggles to make ends meet. “I sell meat, I cut meat. Sometimes I tell customers how to cook the meat but I myself cannot afford to eat this meat, unless it’s on sale,” he says.
Coworkers have expressed appreciation for Bryan and told him that he inspires them to keep working and trying to get ahead despite their own life challenges. Bryan has met some workers who are homeless too. And some customers have told him that they live in the streets as well. They frequently ask him about meat discount offers.
“I did it. It did hurt me but I kept on going, because we work hard,” he says. Especially throughout the pandemic, Bryan and his coworkers helped customers buy food to feed their families and keep themselves safe and healthy.
“Hopefully the company thinks more about workers. It hurts not being appreciated,” he says.
Because thanks to workers like Bryan who give the best of themselves, customers have a great shopping experience, even when a smile might hide tears of pain.
“My heart does hurt at times. After working hard I used to go back to nothing. There’s still nights when I go to sleep tearing and wake up just to another day of work. But at least there’s something positive to do.”
After living outside half of his life, Bryan thinks that what he has accomplished is “crazy real. It’s just like something I can’t explain but I know it is real and I worked hard for this!”
If you would like to support Bryan, there’s a fundraising page to do so: https://fundly.com/new-home-for-bryan