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Peter’s hope story: A fresh start after much loss

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After COVID-19 caused great pain and loss, Peter found help and hope for a fresh start

Peter was a chef at a Manhattan restaurant making a good income, and he had his own apartment. Then the pandemic hit in March 2020 and ushered in a season of extreme grief and loss.

First, Peter’s boss closed the restaurant, and he lost his job. Then he lost three family members to COVID-19 within a few weeks of each other: his grandmother, father and brother. “Everything came at once, really fast,” he shares. Peter felt the pain not just emotionally, but also financially. The funeral costs drained his savings. Job hunting in the restaurant industry led nowhere.

Peter says, “In the beginning of the pandemic you think, it’s only going to be one month and suddenly everything becomes normal.” He battled depression and insomnia and struggled to find motivation each day.

In September, after not being able to pay rent for a few months, Peter lost his apartment. He went from one friend’s house to another, but he didn’t want to be a burden.

Peter decided to try living on the street

For nearly a week, he went without shelter, sleeping on subway trains. One day, while sleeping on the train, he lost everything: his ID, his wallet, his backpack. Everything.

After six days, Peter was desperate for shelter. “Your body gets so tired, and your feet start swelling because you’re standing or sitting even when you sleep,” Peter says. “I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do? I’m so depressed.’ That’s when I decided, ‘That’s it, no more. I’ve got to do something.’” Peter began searching on his phone for shelters — this led him to The Bowery Mission.

He hadn’t slept in days

Peter had never been to a shelter before and was nervous about what it would be like. Pushing through his unease, he stayed overnight at The Bowery Mission’s emergency shelter. There, he finally found the warm bed he had been dreaming of for so long.


“It felt amazing. Most people have a bed, they have AC, a TV. You think of these things as just part of life. But when you sleep on the ground, little things like a warm bed and a bathroom feel like such a blessing.” Peter

In December, Peter joined our short-term program. He met with one of our social workers to talk through his needs and goals. He also began therapy to process all the trauma he had experienced.

Peter has gradually been accomplishing his goals. This included getting his ID and passport so he could travel to Ecuador to see his family after a long absence.

He found “angels hiding in human flesh”

The Bowery Mission’s vocational team has supported Peter in completing training for both construction and security work and obtaining a food handler’s license so he will be fully equipped for the best job possible.

He says he’s most grateful for the people here at the Mission who have encouraged and supported him.

When Peter is back on his feet, he wants to return to the Mission to help people who are in difficult situations like he was. “I’m going to come volunteer with my daughter to help other people,” he says.


“To me, they are like angels hiding in human flesh…. when you’re at the Mission, it’s because you need someone to carry you. In some ways, it’s like the Mission is your big brother. Even if you fail, he’s the brother to stand you up.” Peter

You can help others find a fresh start

Your generous support helps give people like Peter the opportunity to start fresh after suffering such deep loss. Thank you for your compassion!