Deacon Tom Roberts, president of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, during a Project Hope program graduation at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s campus in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco
Kyle Wallis during his graduation of the Project Hope program at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s campus in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco
Mark Parks, from left, Anthony Jones, Wayne Medeiros, and George Metzger, attend their graduation from the Project Hope program at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s campus in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco
George Metzger gives a speech during his graduation of the Project Hope program at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s campus in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco

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Andrew Hustak felt like he had nothing left to lose.

In the span of six years, cancer had taken two wives from the Las Vegas electrician. The mounting medical bills cost him his business, house and plans to retire to Hawaii.

By September 2017, Hustak was tired of trying to make it work. He began living in his jeep and then the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada homeless shelter.

“I always said that’s not going to happen to me,” he recalled. “When it does, it’s a real kick in the teeth.”

But the 60-year-old felt reborn Friday morning. Wearing a gray suit and matching tie, he and 10 other men received wave after wave of applause inside a classroom on the Catholic Charities campus.

They had just graduated from Project Hope, an intensive 16-week program that provides case management and job training to homeless men.

“There is so much goodness in you,” Deacon Thomas A. Roberts told the group. “The human spirit can never be truly extinguished unless you allow it.”

Forty-six men have graduated from Project Hope since it began in November 2016.

The program begins with classes about self-reflection, substance abuse and coping with anger and anxiety. The course work then shifts to job searching, resume writing and interviewing.

Catholic Charities assigns each man a bed and locker. They wake up at about 6 a.m. each day to have breakfast, then complete six hours of volunteer work around the nonprofit’s campus. They help stock the food pantry, clean the dining hall and cook food for other homeless men.

George Metzger said he’s found solace in the routine.

A few months before joining Project Hope, Metzger was in the throes of alcohol addiction and didn’t care if it killed him. Now, the 40-year-old is sober and eager to find a job.

“It’s given me stability, infrastructure and also a sense of worth,” he said of Project Hope. “If you have a sense of worth you can move on.”

Metzger and the other graduates are expected to continue living at Catholic Charities for six months as part of the larger Resident Empowerment Program. During that time they will search for jobs and save money for permanent housing.

Hustak said next month he will start full-time job teaching electrical apprenticeship.

“My personal life is on track. My professional life is on track. It’s all coming together,” he said. “The future is actually looking pretty damn good right now.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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https://www.labula.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/img_Las-Vegas-group-helps-homeless-men-reinvent-themselves-1024x683.jpghttps://www.labula.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/img_Las-Vegas-group-helps-homeless-men-reinvent-themselves-150x150.jpgBobby SotoUncategorizedDeacon Tom Roberts, president of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, during a Project Hope program graduation at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada's campus in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco Kyle Wallis during his graduation of the Project Hope program at the Catholic...