You didn’t give up on Sean. See his story below.
I’d say spring and I are tight. We’re kindred spirits. The season has always played an important role in my life.
After all, spring is baseball season, and I LOVE baseball! When I was a kid growing up in in the Maritimes, the only thing that kept me safe and in control was the baseball field across the street. It got me out of the house. It felt like home. But more than that, it was where I felt safe. It was a refuge from my abuser – my father.
Later in life, when my addiction was at its worst, springtime was when I decided to make a change. Spring feels like a rebirth. It’s new; the baseball season starts, and the flowers are out. It feels like a fresh start.
When I was angry, alone, and needed a place to go, I turned to Shepherds of Good Hope. They didn’t give up on me and neither did supporters like you.
Can we count on you to give the gift of hope to individuals who turn to Shepherds of Good Hope each day for support?
Today, I am happy, healthy, and proud to have supported people living with addiction and trauma in my professional life as an advocate for marginalized people.
I had to leave home at 13 to escape my alcoholic and abusive father’s cruelty. With nowhere else to go, I found myself living in the woods near our house. For the first time, I experienced what it was like to be homeless, and it was terrifying. I felt like I had no one. When the authorities found me, I was sent to a home for kids who had nowhere to go. It was a place that was supposed to be safe for children like me.
My first night there, I was sexually assaulted. My trust was shattered. After that, I wanted nothing to do with any social services – I didn’t trust them.
As I grew up and moved away, I tried to move forward. I was accepted into St. Thomas University. It was there that I met a lovely girl and she became pregnant. We were so happy. But tragically, she and our unborn child died in her seventh month of pregnancy.
I was devastated.
And that was it; I just didn’t care anymore. I thought my new family would help me rise above the traumas I had suffered through in my short life. I wanted to not feel for once. I had a “friend” who had just started using heavy drugs and he asked me if I ever had. I lied and said, I had. I stuck out my arm, and that was the first time I used intravenous drugs. At that moment, I thought “yep that’s what I need”.
I remember the first time I came to Shepherds of Good Hope. I was kicked out of another shelter on Christmas Eve after being accused of selling drugs. I didn’t – trust me.
I don’t think I’d ever been lower. I was sick; I was lonely. It was Christmas Eve. I didn’t have anybody. Without Shepherds, I don’t know what would have happened that night.
Shepherds opened their doors to me and welcomed me in.
Shepherds of Good Hope offers support without judgment for many who have substance use disorders. They don’t expect you to change to receive their help – they meet you where you are. This was so important for me. They did not judge me, and I so appreciated that.
I lived in fear, constantly. I was losing close friends to overdoses. They had so much to live for – but there just weren’t the right supports available.
I started a drug user advocacy group called the Drug Users Advocacy League, or DUAL for short. This was a big thing for me, a way for me to help myself while hopefully helping others. I really wanted to give back and I wanted to get better – so I started to.
I remember this time well. It was 2012 and I felt like I had purpose again. It was, you guessed it, spring.
DUAL started to hold meetings. My recovery went hand in hand with my advocacy. The more I advocated for people who use drugs, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I could advocate.
The better you feel, the more you can do – that’s why I am so passionate about helping others. This is what your support does – you give people struggling the opportunity and supports to start healing themselves.
After using drugs for so long, I felt like I was contributing again. I’ve always wanted to be a good neighbour and be a good community member. I think that’s really important, and this gave me the opportunity to do that.
I am where I am today because of people like you!
Community support, your support, is so vital to the success of so many stories like mine. Don’t get me wrong, there are still hard days, I know I’m not perfect, but I wouldn’t change anything, because it’s led me to this. It’s led me to build a wonderful new life with a woman I love, in a city I love, doing a job I love.
I’ve got people that love me now, people that respect me. Shepherds, and so many other organizations in town, have helped give me life for the first time in forever. And now, I am giving back, giving others the same support and opportunities you gave me.
At my lowest, I would wake up every morning and wish I hadn’t. Now I can’t wait to get up each day.
People deserve to have feelings of self-worth and hope – so thank you so for helping me rediscover mine!