British Columbia Division

Games give this shelter reason to celebrate

03
.01

gamesgivethis‘It feels good to be part of something again’

Written by Petti Fong
Toronto Star, February 28, 2010

VANCOUVER-When Kevin Acker was asked if he wanted to see an Olympic hockey game this week, the Salvation Army facility resident assumed he would watch it on television. He never thought he’d get donated tickets to the men’s Finland-Slovakia match Saturday.

“A year ago, if someone told me I was going to be sitting in a nice place and watching the Olympics, I wouldn’t have believed them,” says Acker, who is recovering from a cocaine-and-alcohol addiction at the Belkin House in Vancouver.

“To learn I’m going to one of the hockey games, man, that was one of the greatest moments of my life.”

Despite the different pasts that have brought them to the facility, Acker said watching the Games has been a good way to bond with the other men and women at the shelter.

A week before the opening ceremonies, the Belkin House set up a 176-inch screen for its more than 225 residents to watch the events.

“Before whatever happened, many of us remember watching other Olympics and remember sports,” said Acker, who is originally from Nova Scotia and moved out to B.C. 11 years ago.

Captain Jim Coggles, executive director of the Salvation Army’s Belkin House, said there was anxiety about the Olympics at first. Administrators didn’t know how the residents – some released from jail, others in addiction recovery or living there as an emergency shelter – would react to watching the Games.

Coggles said the Salvation Army kept the viewing plans for the Games low-key, not putting up signs or pressuring residents to go and watch the events.

But the day the torch came down the street in front of the facility and residents rushed out to see it go past, Coggles said he knew the decision to bring the Olympics into the shelter would be popular.

Dozens came to watch the opening ceremonies in the facility’s auditorium.

“As the Games go along and the spirit catches on, there’s been more and more growing attendance,” said Coggles.

He added that curling are the most popular events.

Just before the first hockey game, Coggles said, one of the residents stood up and encouraged everyone else in the room to stand for the national anthem. As soon as the music started, everyone in the crowd got up and began singing.

During the curling semi-finals, James Chisholm gave a play-by-play, explaining the difference between the team’s skip and the first, second and third positions.

It’s a language that prairie-raised Chisholm knows well, but hasn’t used much in recent years. He is three months into a detox from a cocaine-and-alcohol addiction.

“It feels good to be part of something again,” Chisholm said.

Leave a Reply

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

Related Articles

Salvation Army Hero Saves the Day This Thanksgiving!

10
.09

 

The need was urgent! The Thanksgiving Community and Family Services dinner was only hours away and we had no cook! The regular chef was suddenly unavailable due to a family emergency and the concern grew over whether or not we be able to provide the Thanksgiving meal for the families we serve.

Determined not to be defeated, Major James Hagglund made a few phone calls to our other ministry units and received a message regarding a potential chef replacement. Major […]

Salvation Army Provides Hope on World Mental Health Day

10
.06

 

Did you know that in any given year, about 1 in 7 young people in BC will experience a mental illness at some point? On World Mental Health Day, we address the reality of mental illness and support those who struggle with mental illness issues. The Salvation Army BC operates numerous ministries that cater to the needs of people in our community struggling with their mental health.

At The Salvation Army Harbor Light, we provide clients with extensive treatment […]