BILLINGS - A few years ago David Carpenter found himself in a precarious place - homeless and living in van. That’s when he showed up in the parking lot at Tumbleweed, a non-profit that provides services to runaway, homeless, and vulnerable youth and their families.
“I was too young to go to any other shelter, like a regular adult home shelter. I couldn’t even get a shower at a truck stop because you have to be 21 to get a shower at a truck stop because of the liability issues for them,” he says.
These days, David is driving his own truck and owns his own business - Broadwater Lawn Care. He mows lawns in the warm months and plows snow in the cold ones.
“I actually got a truck and I’ve got several trailers,” he says.
His future wasn’t always looking so bright.
“When I was like six years old my Mom passed away of unfortunate circumstances. My Dad was never really around and then he passed away.”
He estimates that he lived with around 60 foster families before finally finding himself homeless and getting help at Tumbleweed.
“When I was living in that van they gave me the food, shelter, the other things. They also tried to influence you with classes to teach you things,” he says.
Tumbleweed’s mission is to provide safety, assistance, and hope to the community’s most vulnerable youth. In the past calendar year, the organization provided about 1700 services here in Billings. Many are young people who find themselves in the very same place that David did a few years ago.
“They are really the invisible population. They don’t want to be seen as homeless. They are not pushing a cart. They are not necessarily panhandling. They are the ones who are trying to blend in with the rest of the world because they don’t want to be seen as homeless,” says Tumbleweed executive director Georgia Cady.
David now has his own apartment along with a budding business and a lot of appreciation for the help that he found at Tumbleweed.
“He’s come such a long ways and he’s just an exceptional young man,” says Cady, who hired Carpenter to do lawn care and snow plowing for Tumbleweed after he presented a business plan.
“The biggest thing that I want to say is to not let your circumstances determine who you are today. Is to be the change you desire to see—and to be thankful and be aware of the opportunities around you and be willing to take them because nothing ventured nothing gained,” says Carpenter.