3. Jean Manganaro
At 15 years old, Jean Manganaro came home from school one day to discover that his alcoholic, abusive parents had abandoned him. Their apartment was empty, and they were never coming back. He tried to seek help, but there wasn’t anywhere for him to go. He opted to become friends with other wayward teens and became addicted to drugs and alcohol, just like his parents. He got into trouble and ended up going to a juvenile detention center. As an adult, he continued to struggle with homelessness.
At 29 years old, Manganaro decided that he needed to change everything. He moved to Florida in search of a long-lost older brother and started attending AA meetings. After telling the group his life story, one of the members struck him a deal. Manganaro had two weeks to crash on his couch for free. After that, he needed to find a job and pay rent or get out. He accepted the challenge and found a job almost immediately.
Manganaro volunteered to help homeless men he met in Florida. He realized that there were so many holes in the system where government bureaucracy prevented so many people from getting help. He founded an organization called The Gratitude House to help these people beat their addictions, find jobs, and get back on their feet. He uses the same two-week, do-or-die opportunity that helped turn his life around. Today, he is sober and has a good career and a wife and kids.