NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY)– Twenty years ago, James Greene walked into LINK of Hampton Roads Veterans Shelter for the first time.

“One of the things that happened to me when I went into the military at 18 years old, I became addicted to drugs and got out of the military. suffered some mental health issues that went unaddressed and I kind of medicated myself with the street drugs and was in and out of homelessness,” said Greene.

LINK was founded in 1990 in Newport News by leaders from the interfaith, civic, and business communities. The nonprofit provides housing, food, financial planning, and substance abuse services.

“I often thought of suicide a lot. I really believed before I reached out to family members, I thought I would have done something to myself. That’s the dark place I’ve been in,” Greene reflected.

Greene says through LINK he was able to get back on his feet and address those issues. This August marks 34 years drug-free. Greene is now on LINK’s board of directors where he’s paying it forward.

Link served 739 people last year and is anticipating over a thousand this year due to food insecurity and rising housing costs.

“It’s a constant battle to come up with the funds to continue to operate these programs we’ve actually had some people who died without ever getting off the street,” Greene said.

WAVY-TV 10 is partnering with LINK for Nexstar’s Founders Day of Caring coming up next month, so others like Greene, can become self-sufficient.

“It’s great, I think it’s an awesome opportunity,” smiled Greene.

One of the shelter’s biggest needs right now is a place to store meats. It’s a $10,000 investment into a new freezer and they’re hoping you’ll step up to donate.

WAVY is also holding a drive for the shelter at Pembroke Mall June 7th. Hygiene products are among some of their biggest needs.