Man overcomes homelessness, studies at UAB to give back

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – This Christmas there are many things to be grateful for, and a Birmingham man says he is particularly grateful this year looking back.

Dan McDaniels has transformed incredibly over the past few years. He thanks his loving father, the Salvation Army, and an encouraging friend for coming out the other side.

“The police found me running down the main street in my underwear in the middle of the day when it was around 20 degrees. And they knew something was wrong,” said McDaniels.

He knew he had hit rock bottom when he found himself living in Avondale Park, with his alcoholism spiraling after dealing with difficult personal issues.

“My girlfriend at the time broke up with me… just before I came here, I was drinking every day, all day. I decided to quit, I made withdrawals, which I don’t knew nothing and ended up in intensive care,” McDaniels said.

During his time of homelessness, a new friend helped bring hope to Dan.

“I would come over and, you know, bring him if he needed supplies or groceries or a sleeping bag, things like that, we’d hang out — there’s a bench there,” he said. Jacob Ray.

Then, once Dan got sober, they reconnected.

“He sent me a picture of the bench, just a bench and a frame that I had in my office. You know, with a note, you know, I’ll never forget our time on that bench talking,” Ray said.

Now he works in the very place that helped turn his life around.

“He participated 100% in the program. And he surrendered himself in all sorts of ways to the Lord and also to our program,” Salvation Army Sgt. Lee Hammonds said.

Once Dan got his driver’s license and a car back, he found a job.

“I had other work projects, I had other things in mind. And then when they offered me one here, I was like, great,” McDaniels said.

He now lives and works there while also a full-time student at UAB pursuing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work so he can give back directly to Birmingham.

“I want to help homeless people, I want to help them get off the streets,” McDaniels said.

To contact the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center about a place in the future, Click here.

Some other resources for rehabilitation are the Lovelady Center and the Impact Recovery Center.

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