A Life Transformed: Taking Care of Business

When Mr. Pisciotti arrived at Joseph’s Home in August 2012, he didn’t expect much. He was in desperate need of surgery and had no income or resources. He was less than a year into recovery from a gambling addiction that had wreaked havoc on his life. In his situation, any alternative to sleeping on the streets sounded good.

Mr. Pisciotti has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes pressure on the spinal cord. The condition causes debilitating numbness, weakness and pain. A surgery in 2008 to fuse the vertebrae in his neck was not successful. At 52, after years of work in food service, his body was no longer able to endure the strain of running a restaurant.

Compulsive gambling led to even greater loss, costing him two marriages and relationships with four of his five children. He came to Cleveland in 2011 seeking help from the gambling treatment program at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Mr. Piscotti said the program saved his life. Because his problem was so severe, he went through the program twice. He then participated in a compensated work therapy program at the VA, where he could work on transitioning back to independent living.

But after a few months, symptoms from his spinal stenosis made the transition impossible. In need of a second surgery and without resources or family in the area, Mr. Piscotti had no idea where to go. His VA caseworker referred him to Joseph’s Home.

Mr. Pisciotti stayed at Joseph’s Home for nearly four months. He recuperated from surgery and planned a transition appropriate for his medical needs. The staff helped him find an affordable apartment on limited disability income. He attended multiple Gamblers Anonymous meetings weekly and continued his after-care program at the VA. A lapsed Catholic, he also resumed regular church attendance.

Today, Mr. Pisciotti lives independently and continues to be very involved in Gamblers Anonymous. He plans to return to college in the summer of 2013 to finish the 12 credit hours he needs to earn his bachelor’s degree in business, which will open a world of possibilities for his future.

Reflecting on his time at Joseph’s Home, Mr. Pisciotti said, “I got the care and direction needed during my recovery to get on with my life.”