Meet Michael

Click on the image or link below to hear Michael’s story.

My name is John Refling, I am a third-year Public Policy Studies major at Duke from Bozeman, Montana.  I chose to take this class because I had my first hands-on experience dealing with homelessness this past summer in Washington, D.C., and wanted to learn more about the issue.  I had little experience with homelessness before going to D.C. because we simply have very few homeless people in Montana because of the harsh climate.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but completing this project helped make the issue of homelessness more personal to me.  Before spending time at the Phoenix House, I was able to largely ignore the anonymousfaces on the street.  This class illustrated that every single person on the street has a story, and it’s probably more complicated than I initially believed.

Spending time with Michael and the rest of thePhoenix House has provided me with indispensable insight on what it is like to live as a recovering addict.  The spirit of the men in the house has given me inspiration to attempt to see the complexity in issues related to addiction and homelessness.  I began this project worried that my subject would have trouble opening up to me, and I wouldn’t be able to get any interesting material, but Michael’s honesty and openness about his life and experiences gave me more material than I could ever use.  It is clear that this documentary provides only a glimpse of Michael’s soul, a glimpse of a part of him that illustrates his rich story.  I can only hope that this short, seven-minute piece helps to share his story and to show his strengths in the face of adversity.


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