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Local man shares harrowing homeless story to inspire others like him

Homeless for months, Fergus Falls man find new hope at Fargo's New Life Center.

Francisco Chavez.jpg
Francisco Chavez found help at the New Life Center to find ways to cope with the loss of his wife and daughter.
Derek Zimmerman-Guyer WDAY-TV

FARGO — It's been a tough winter for people who are homeless this winter.

The New Life Center tells us they took in 12 new people despite being over their 100-bed capacity during this last blizzard. One man who stays there hopes his story inspires more to seek shelter from our winter storms.

Francisco Chavez is originally from Arizona who moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, he was enjoying food he couldn't find living on the streets just five months ago, wandering around Fargo for weeks.

"I've sneaked into apartment doorways, I've (sneaked) in and slept in laundry rooms," Chavez said.

What sent him to sleeping in these scary conditions, could break anyone.

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"I had a death in the family," he said.

After losing his wife of 23 years to cardiac arrest in July of 2021, months later, his 23-year-old daughter was beaten to death by her boyfriend.

"I got a phone call saying that she was no longer with us from my dad," Chavez said.

Heartbroken, he couldn't stay at their home in Fergus Falls anymore and went back to the booze.

"I had been alcohol free for 10 years, and I lost everything," Chavez said.

Come October, when the temperatures dropped, Chavez was at his lowest. The New Life Center gave him newfound help.

"These people helped me build myself back up in five months, and I was broken. Beyond broken," Chavez said.

They even gave him a different perspective on his daughter's death.

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"I'm not mad at the guy. I forgive him. Because I have to forgive him. Because if I don't forgive him, my daughter won't move on," Chavez said.

It took time for him to accept the New Life Center.

"But it came to a point where I didn't have a choice," Chavez said.

"He has realized that, genuinely, there's no difference between any of us," said New Life Center executive director Rob Swiers.

Now, he's pushing for his pals to put aside their pride and avoid the frostbite. Following in his footsteps.

"I know a friend of mine, that's losing a fingertip," he said. "I'm just using my brokenness to heal people."

Chavez also says he's eyeing a new apartment, and will return to work soon hauling furniture.

Related Topics: HOMELESSNESSFARGO
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