He reminds you of the decent, uncomplicated buddy in a Hollywood buddy movie.
Not for him crazy, loud and out of control!
Fifty-four-year-old Mike Conyers, born in Detroit, has been the resident manager of the DC VETS program since July 2013. A father of four and twice widowed, he is also the nephew of 86-year-old John Conyers, the oldest and longest-serving member of Congress (50 years). In addition, his grandfather was one of the founders of the town of Conyers, Georgia.
Persistence and pluck are in the family gene pool as over a period of 41 years, he continually worked as a printer, cartographer, barber, musician, cable installer and, in 2000, found himself on a Chrysler assembly line as a quality assurer. Generally, he always worked two jobs, but, as he says, “sometimes three.”
The Army contributed mightily to his civilian livelihood when it taught him how to read blueprints and create and print brochures, flyers and periodicals. He enlisted in 1980 and was sent to Ft. Belvoir, VA. In 1984, he married his childhood sweetheart and, two years later, he mustered out of the military. Conyers worked as a printer for 17 years as children and life began to pile up.
Laid off his Chrysler job, he moved to Gaithersburg, MD to help his sister with her family. His kids were now grown, and money was scarce. Within a year he moved to his own place in nearby Germantown where he worked for five years as a technician at a firm he claims is responsible for a debilitating illness that shut down his motor skills. He was laid off again.
Weak and ill, he sought help at the Rockville Center for Shelter Placement. He was told of transitional housing and referred to a VA caseworker at the DC office at1500 Franklin St. NW. Things moved quickly as he found himself referred to the DC VETS program, where he was assigned a one-bedroom apartment to be shared with a roommate Conyers credits with restoring his health. “His name was Raymond Brooks, an older guy who took me under his wing,” says Conyers. Brooks cooked at least 2 hot meals daily and in a matter of months, says Conyers, “got most of my health back.”
Meanwhile, Conyers was given food cards over two months and steered to DC unemployment forms that resulted in a $1500 monthly unemployment check. He also signed up for the VRAP program where he went to school to learn about tv cable installation. He also painted the DC VETS facility inside and out. Conyers’ industriousness was rewarded when he was made DC VETS Resident Manager. He was heartened when a new director came in December and restructured the program to eliminate any apathy or complacency that might creep into the goals mission.
“When Mr. Strong came aboard new rules swept bad habits away.”
As an example, people who had been there for two years or more were asked to leave or found alternative temporary housing; new classes such as Human Resources Management and Basic Economics were available weekly; Job Fairs were attended; drug addiction training and Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) events were introduced, along with character-building programming. Conyers is a blur at DC VETS as he does landscaping, caulks, paints, counsels, handles and advises on all technical equipment, shovels snow, prepares large meals and lectures and leads weekly meetings.
Those who know him realize his mastery of many things, far from a blur, shows his character to be finely focused – and precision tuned.