Karen’s Story

See how Karen found her voice again

Even though COVID-19 is keeping all of us physically separated from our loved ones for now, we have to remain connected. We all lost something. But even if you are feeling lonely or isolated please know; things will get better.

How does Karen know? You helped her get through her darkest days. And every day, she says, it gets a little bit better.

After years of struggling with her addiction to alcohol, Karen lost her home, she lost her way, she lost all hope until she found her home at The Oaks, one of Shepherds of Good Hope’s supportive housing residences.

But now, she’s found her voice again. You help people like Karen get through their darkest days staying in Shepherds’ shelter to finding their way again – into a home with a supportive community.

See Karen’s story below:

Growing up in a military family, I moved around. A lot! Every eighteen months or so we would pack our belongings and move to a new city. I was born in Germany and moved to eastern Ontario at a young age and then out to the East Coast and back again.

Every time we moved my parents would say “Don’t worry Karen. You’ll be fine. You’ll make new friends. It’ll be alright.”

But it wasn’t alright. I lost something dear to me every time we moved. My school. My friends. My room. Gone. Just like that.

However, there was always someone who helped me. A teacher. A neighbour. A new best friend. Someone always reached out.

The constant sense of loss followed me into adulthood. My addiction to alcohol grew over time. I lost my home, my husband and I divorced, and I made the difficult choice of giving over custody of my kids to him. That’s when I found myself at Shepherds of Good Hope. By the time you realize what’s happening, you think it’s too late. You’ve lost something else – you’ve lost yourself. You wonder if you have the energy you need to reignite the light.

The only thing that works is love, hope and finding someone who cares about you.

Shepherds of Good Hope is filled with people who care about you. Staff, volunteers, donors like you. Somehow you all come together and help people just like me.

I moved out of the shelter and into a permanent home at The Oaks. I’ll be honest with you, when I first arrived at The Oaks I didn’t think I belonged.

I had a normal life before, I was never supposed to end up at a shelter or live with a bunch of strangers. But, I knew I needed a change. I needed stability in my life and I knew I never wanted to be at a shelter again. I was not what they call street smart.

I have grown to love it here. I have been here for nearly 5 years now and have met some of the most amazing people. The staff have helped me rekindle my relationship with my younger sister Abby after many years. I have created wonderful memories.

One of my favourite things the staff and volunteers do for us here is at Christmas. Every year the week before Christmas we have a celebration where all the residents get gifts from Santa Claus, we sing Christmas carols and enjoy a lovely meal. I come from a musical family and all of this reminds me of my Christmas as a child. My father would grab his guitar and we would all gather together and sing Christmas songs, and sometimes throw in some Johnny Cash.

If you knew me before, you’d know I love to sing. The good news is you’ve helped me find my voice again.

Like many of us who struggle with addiction, Christmas and the holidays can be difficult and often lonely, but, at Shepherds of Good Hope you never feel alone. There’s always someone who cares about you.

Everyone accepts you for you. I say I have found my voice again, because I feel validated here.

You are the reason this program can operate and change people’s lives for the better.

Please give today and help someone find their voice and a place to call home this Christmas.

Your gift not only provides vital programs and services, but it shows people in need that their community is thinking about them, that their voice is heard.

The staff and volunteers at Shepherds know what to do. They know how to do more with less. They know how to stretch each and every gift they receive from donors like you. They ensure nobody goes hungry. Like you, they continue to help anyone and everyone who is struggling to get by.

The last nine months have pushed us all to our limits. It’s been hard. Needs have grown. More people than ever before are seeking help, trying to replace all they’ve lost.

Thank you for being a light in the lives of so many people. Most of all, thank you for helping Karen find her voice again and feel loved this Christmas.