Loved Back to Life


For as far back as he can remember, Keith was told he was worthless and stupid. The emotional and verbal punches of his father cut deep, but the physical abuse that followed pierced even deeper.

“The only thing I was terrified of as a kid was my dad,” says Keith. While Keith’s father was well-respected in the church, his ‘unfinished business’ from an abusive childhood left him angry, and unpredictable outbursts at home had horrible effects on Keith.

“I was thrown down flights of stairs—food was shoved down my throat until I puked— and when I vomited I was forced to eat it,” says Keith.

At 14 Keith hung out with friends who had reputations as bad boys and bad girls. They gave him the recognition and validation he longed for. But it wasn’t long before Keith became a walking tsunami—on self-destruct.

A Walking Tsunami

At 13 Keith was arrested for grand arson. At 16 he shaved his head and joined a hate movement. At 18 he was using and running illegal drugs. By age 19 he was addicted to opiates, eating 75 Percocet a day. Addiction’s powerful claws had dug in.

Arrest was a common presence in Keith’s life—mostly due to drug-related offences. For years he was either in jail, or homeless in the streets. “I did anything for drugs,” says Keith. “I even sold my children’s clothes.”
But one day, the dangers and risks of Keith’s cocaine use hit.

“My best friend and I had smoked $1,500 worth of crack over 12 hours,” says Keith. “As we took pleasure in the rush I noticed she was suddenly drenched in sweat and her heart beat was rapid. Then her arms and legs shook violently, she fell unconscious, and her breathing stopped.”

Keith totally lost it. He was convinced she had died. Then minutes later, she started breathing again. “It was the worst day of my life,” says Keith.

The terrifying incident forced Keith to acknowledge he had a problem and he took his first step to getting clean. With a warrant out for his arrest, he called the police and informed them of his whereabouts.

While Keith awaited trial he was remanded on bail. Looking for a warm, safe place to stay he checked in at The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in London, Ontario. The Centre, located at ‘the gateway’ of downtown, serves men, women and youth who are absolutely homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“At the Army there was no sense of threat, criticism or rejection,” says Keith. “They don’t focus on your past, but help you reclaim your future. They loved me back to life.”

At the Centre Keith pursued sobriety through programs like Withdrawal Management, a 12 Step Program, and life-skills training. All of which addressed the social, physical and emotional aspects of his addiction.

Today Keith hangs out with people who are positive influences. He recently graduated from an Addictions Counselling course and uses his recovery experience to make a difference on the streets he once called home. He has also won an award for the changes he has made in his life.

Says Keith: “Recovery is hard, forgiveness is harder. But with the right supports in place, it’s doable.”


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Kevin sits outside Salvation Army shelter

One Actor’s Journey out of Homelessness


Less than a year ago, Kevin, an immigrant from Iran, lived on the streets of Vancouver. A former actor in his country, this wasn’t the life he had imagined. He had no home, no money and no family. Today, with help from The Salvation Army, he has a roof over his head and hope for a better future.

“I had many different problems,” says Kevin, 30. “Life was hard. But The Salvation Army changed that.”

In 2006, Kevin was a successful actor […]


Real Help for Deep Hurt


One day she was married. The next day she was a widow, alone and grieving. Sandra thought she’d never cope through her nightmare or find ways to make the pain more bearable.

“My husband’s long downward spiral with cancer was the hardest thing I’ve ever watched unfold,” says Sandra.

After 50 years of marriage Sandra’s life changed in an instant. They were a team. Now, there was no longer someone to greet her when she came home. The chair opposite hers at […]