By Steve Lestarjette

Kenneth Wilson is 59 years old, and has an amazing story to tell.

In his long journey, he has served a tour in the Navy and been a “big-rig” truck driver.

Then things got hard. At age 16, he began a long-term relationship with alcohol, which left him addicted and, eventually, homeless.

He made his way from east Texas to Houston, and “survived” by living under bridges and overpasses for more than five years.

“I had nothing,” he admits. No money, no home or family, and no prospects for the future.

Then something happened. Kenneth says that by “divine encounter” he was befriended by a counselor and her husband, pastors of a local Houston congregation.

“They took an interest me,” he says. “They took me to church, helped me get an apartment, drove me where I needed to go, and gave me financial help to keep me alive.”

Steady and grounded for the first time in years, Kenneth believed it was time to “take the next step.” He had driven commercial trucks once before, so he turned to Houston Community College’s truck driving program to reset his skills.

HCC provided financial assistance and gave him the instruction and encouragement to succeed, he says.

“I had attended a proprietary truck driving school 20 years earlier, but HCC was much more thorough, much more detailed, than that school,” Kenneth says. “They started us out learning how to shift gears. We stayed with it until we got it. Then we went to the college’s driving course and learned how to turn.”

The college’s course textbook covered driving laws and regulations, and was so thorough, Kenneth says with a laugh, that a student who masters it would know almost as much as a state patrol officer.

HCC was the second chance Kenneth Wilson needed.