Formerly homeless engineer gets back on his feet, vows to help others

59-year-old Larry Williams reflected on his life from his sixth story apartment in San Francisco's Fillmore District where the view could not be better. 

“I’m not perfect.  I’ll never be like I was before all this, but I’m pretty close,” said Williams.  

Back in 2011, Williams was a mechanical engineer in San Jose. He traveled the world. He was happy and healthy until a series of auto accidents left him with spinal, head and leg injuries.  A divorce left him with few options.  He recovered in shelters and eventually landed on the streets.  Homeless for over five years, Williams remembers many long nights

“The nights in a tent, raccoons, possums, rats and feral cats. It was constant every night," he said.

Williams' pride kept him from seeking help.  Social agencies like Samaritan House kept calling and when he finally answered, goodness followed. Larry described that feeling just a few days after moving in.  

“It was an incredible feeling. Heat! I kind of forgot what that was like," he said.

Two years in recovery, Williams is on the mend. He walks with a cane is forever grateful. He truly is a success story. The system works if both sides are willing to work.  

“I’ll be the poster child. I don’t mind. In fact it’s very gratifying. It warms my heart. People look at me and say no way, no way. I say yes way!”  

Williams spent hours at San Francisco coffee shop while homeless. He wanted to surround himself with people who were moving in a positive direction.He recently returned to one of the coffee shops and when he entered an old friend showered him with kind words.

”Hey Larry, What’s going on? You look like a million bucks my friend!” 

Williams' transformation has been incredible, but he admits he still has work to do.  

“I still grab too many packets of sugar when I go get a cup of coffee because it’s survival,” said Williams. "It’s all part of the recovery process. It takes time and part of that process is giving back." 

Williams spends countless hours raising funds and awareness for numerous homeless organizations. He vows he will never forget where he came from. That’s why he always walk with a bag of food.  If he sees someone in need he’s there to help.  

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on a journey that almost took me,” said Williams.  

As for the future? Larry is an engineer by trade and he’s in the midst of developing a cold brew coffee machine that he hopes to bring to market someday. That may be his ticket out of subsidized housing and getting both feet back firmly on the ground.