Fishing for a Brighter Future – Gregory’s Story

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a daunting challenge. Yet, for 67-year-old veteran, Gregory Scott, it became a journey of unwavering determination and eventual triumph once he was made aware of the valuable resources within his community.

At just 18 years old, Gregory enlisted in the Army and Coast Guard, serving our country proudly until he turned 21. According to Gregory, he loved the job, loved the travel, and loved the friends he made along the way. However, when he took the time to reflect on his own personal needs, he realized the military life was not what he truly desired.

After completing his military service, Gregory returned to his hometown of Yuba City. During that time, he had no source of income and no physical home to go back to. Nevertheless, Gregory wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own. With just a few camping supplies and his own inner strength, Gregory spent the next 30 years residing in a small tent on the riverbeds near Shanghai Bend. Despite not having a sturdy roof over his head, Gregory made the most out of his situation, finding enjoyment through fishing.

“They say you don’t quit fishing when you get old, you get old when you quit fishing.” Gregory remarked.

His happiness did not last forever though. Around 2008, when the economy suffered a major collapse, Gregory noticed his riverbanks becoming more and more crowded. With the arrival of more people came more trash, drugs, and pollution. The quaint, camp-centric lifestyle that Gregory had been living for the past 30 years had suddenly been overshadowed by the community’s growing homeless population.

“I could’ve made a million bucks if I had a YouTube channel to film the stuff I’d seen down there. It was crazy.” Gregory said.

Despite the drastic changes in his environment, Gregory kept his spirits high and chose to camp elsewhere, eventually taking shelter in the back of his pickup truck at a boat rental facility. He spent almost a year at this location, continuing to pursue his passion for fishing. However, Gregory was in his mid-60’s at this point, and the growing abundance of fenced off areas and regulations he encountered were beginning to feel like unsurpassable obstacles to him. He had dreamed about settling down in a home, but with the little income he was receiving from social security, he didn’t see a way that it would be possible.

That was until the day that the Sutter County Sheriff had stopped by the boat rental facility and noticed Gregory sleeping in his truck. The officer kindly approached Gregory and started making conversation with him. After hearing Gregory’s story, the officer told him about the Veteran’s Services in Marysville and encouraged Gregory to seek them out.

“Let’s get you out of this truck and into a home” the officer said to him.

To Gregory’s surprise, that’s exactly what ended up happening. Once Gregory reached out to Veteran’s Services, they set up his veteran’s benefits and contacted Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter to get him on the waitlist for low-income housing. Due to Gregory’s veteran status, he was classified as a priority and didn’t have to wait long. Just four months later, Gregory received the good news that he was approved for an affordable housing unit in Prosperity Village.

“I love everything about this place. The staff is so friendly and every time I go to unlock my door I giggle and jump up and down.” Gregory said.

While he enjoyed most of his time camping and fishing at the riverbeds, Gregory says that having indoor plumbing, electricity, and a warm bed are what he’s most looking forward to. When asked if he would miss the freedom that his previous lifestyle granted him, Gregory responded by saying, “Yes, but I’m also getting a new sense of freedom now that I’m here.” For Gregory, this home marks the beginning of a fresh chapter. He plans to continue pursuing his fishing adventures but now finds comfort in knowing he has a safe, clean space to return back to.

When reflecting on his newfound security, Gregory expressed his gratitude towards everyone at Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter, Veteran’s Services, and to the Sutter County sheriff that got him out of the boatyard that day. Until his interaction with the sheriff, Gregory had not known about the resources that were readily available to him and never thought he would be able to afford a roof over his head. His story is a testament to the power of community support and the courage in seeking out help. Today, Gregory encourages all veterans (low-income, homeless, or homeless-risk) to seek out assistance from Habitat, Veteran’s Services, or other organizations within the community.

Posted in

Habitat for Humanity Yuba-Sutter