Manny Correa-Torres, 62, knows he’s lucky to be alive.
Discharged from the hospital after a motorcycle crash about 3 years ago, Manny came to Yakima Neighborhood Health Services for help. He had lost his apartment and had no income. What he did have was a $200-a-day heroin habit.
After his discharge from the hospital – where he had undergone surgery for multiple broken bones — Neighborhood Health case managers moved him into an apartment for respite care
When he recovered, Manny moved into Bright Futures, Neighborhood Health’s supportive housing program. His case manager, Veronica Castaneda, said he talked about wanting to beat his addiction, which he had committed to after his discharge. But he had a hard time. His son had recently died. Heroin was all he had.
“I had no emotional support,” Manny recalls.
Veronica would not give up on Manny. She’d find him at a homeless encampment, nearly lifeless and incontinent, buying and
selling and using heroin. “Manny and I went back and forth. I’d say, ‘Manny, you can’t be doing this. I don’t want to find you dead.’”
But Manny spiralled downhill. He was on the verge of getting kicked out of Bright Futures. Veronica tried getting him into a methadone clinic but for medical reasons, it was not a good fit. She then took him to a suboxone program. Within a month of starting suboxone, he agreed to go to a residential treatment center in Vancouver, WA.
After 30 days, he returned to Yakima and Veronica picked him up at the bus station. Manny was stable and free of heroin. Veronica reports that he now counsels others recovering from substance abuse. He also tends a bountiful garden at Bright Futures, harvesting cabbage and other vegetables and flowers. He tended to his Grandmother’s garden as a boy in Puerto Rico.
“Veronica,” Manny says to her during a recent visit, “you were stronger than me. I was struggling. I’m sorry.”
“Oh no, no, no” she replies. “It’s OK. I’m happy for you. You have a lot to live for Manny.”