When you support Shepherds of Good Hope, you can save a life. Just ask Chadd.
Chadd is a soft-spoken and intelligent person. His life has been full of struggle. But thanks to Shepherds of Good Hope, he is finding support and hope for a better tomorrow.
“You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ I learned as a child, everyone has a story. I know I do.
My name is Chadd. I’m a father and a grandfather. I was a runaway and a teen parent. I’ve owned a home, had a life that included vacations and fancy cars. I’ve also done 10 years in prison and I use intravenous drugs.
I’ve lived so many lives that you wouldn’t know just by looking at me. Sometimes I watch cars going by on Murray Street and think ‘I used to be just like you’. I go into a coffee shop and wonder if the reason the cashier is taking so long to come back to take my order is because she sees the track marks on my arms, or if it’s the way I’m dressed.
I come from humble beginnings. I grew up here in the Ottawa area, first in a housing project, and then we moved out to Renfrew county.
I’m the youngest of three boys. My dad was very abusive to my mother, so I grew up seeing that. The final straw was when I was 16, he and my brother got into a fist fight, and he pulled out a gun. He shot my brother – who thank God survived – but I was done with him and all that chaos.
I found refuge on the streets of Ottawa. It may sound crazy, but I actually felt safer there than at home. I was young and it was a nonstop party. That is when I started using drugs, just stuff that I considered fairly harmless.
But after a while, it got tiresome. I came back down to earth with a thud, when my 15-year-old girlfriend became pregnant. I was still only 16! Neither of us were ready to be parents, though we did try hard. I wanted so much to be the father I didn’t have. Looking back, I was way too hard on her. Our relationship did not work out and, ultimately, we placed our daughter for adoption.
After that, I did turn things around. I met a new woman who would later become my wife, and we built a great life together. We both had good-paying jobs, a nice house, fancy cars. I felt like we’d made it – we WERE the Joneses.
Our family was complete when our daughter was born. I called her my “little miracle.” She loves her dad. I had officially broken free of my past. To this day, I know I could call her and she’d be there for me.
Over time though, the drugs crept back in and dragged us down. My wife started using opiates to treat her fibromyalgia. And me, the cool husband with the fancy sportscar, introduced some cocaine, and the combination proved disastrous.
We held it together for as long as we could. We showed up for our daughter. But the drugs took a stronger hold. I lost weight and had to go on disability. And then I made some bad choices to support our addictions. For the next 10 years I was in and out of prison, doing robberies, selling drugs, that sort of thing. Anything to keep us from withdrawal.
The last time I got out of prison was March 2020. It’s hard enough to reintegrate into society after prison, but everything was shutting down due to COVID-19. The world was pretty cold. I didn’t have a single penny to my name for a month and a half.
That was the moment I turned to Shepherds of Good Hope. They were there for me when I had nowhere else to turn. They accepted me. They never judged me. They saved my life, and I mean that literally.
Please, give a special gift today so that more people just like me can feel supported. So that someone who is struggling with addiction and trauma like I was can access the life-saving health care Shepherds of Good Hope provides. You can save a life.
The drug supply on the streets has become increasingly toxic. Everything is laced with fentanyl and who knows what else. I’ve overdosed more times than I can count.
The Supervised Consumption and Treatment Service, known as “The Trailer”, is run by Shepherds of Good Hope and Ottawa Inner City Health. It offers me a safe place to use drugs, where there are staff ready to reverse an overdose if things go wrong.
And with your support, they’ve helped me with so much more. I don’t have any diseases related to my substance use disorder, because I can get clean injection supplies there. My arms are healing, because they have resources there to help me inject in safer ways. The nurses there talk to me about my options to cut down the amount I’m using, or use safer, legal opiates instead of what’s on the streets. I don’t feel judged during these conversations – I feel supported and cared for.
In this environment, I feel like I’m finally rediscovering my true self. I wish more people took the time to get to know Shepherds of Good Hope and the people who use its services. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigma about the Trailer and the people who use it.
Places like Shepherds of Good Hope are so necessary. I’ve heard it called “the last stop on the block.” But for a lot of us, it’s the first step on a journey to a better life.
Thank you for reading my story,