Rebuilding Lives on the Rock

by John McAlister
Categories: Feature
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    salvationarmy_crisisRobbie (not his real name), found himself homeless after his 20-year marriage ended. He wandered from job to job and boarding room to boarding room. He got in with the wrong crowd and became an alcoholic. “If it weren’t for The Salvation Army Wiseman Centre, I’m not sure where I’d be today. They set me in the right direction,” he comments. Robbie now lives independently and continues to receive support from the outreach program at the centre.

    In St. John’s, N.L., The Salvation Army’s Wiseman Centre opened its doors in 1986. In its early days, the centre provided basic food and shelter. Then in 2002, the Wiseman Centre broadened its mandate to provide further services to its clients. “It is now a home, a haven and a place of hope for men who find themselves homeless, dealing with issues of substance abuse, in turmoil and without hope,” says Major Marlene George, manager at the Wiseman Centre.

    The facility is named for General Clarence Wiseman, 10th international leader of The Salvation Army. Not only was The Salvation Army an important part of his heritage, Clarence Wiseman was also a proud Newfoundlander. It is fitting that the centre, dedicated to guiding men in
    St. John’s through life’s crises, be named in his memory.

    The goal of the Wiseman Centre is to empower each man in its programs to reach his full potential so that he can live productively in the community.

    Clients like Robbie develop life skills during their stay at the Wiseman Centre. Counsellors help the men learn how to manage their money, stress and anger. They teach them to cook for themselves and take care of their homes. The men are encouraged to develop an active lifestyle through regular physical exercise. Alcoholics Anonymous and employment services are also available to the residents. The spiritual aspect of recovery is emphasized through the availability of a Bible study program as well as individual spiritual direction, as desired.

    The Wiseman Centre is a place of hope for its clients as well as one of inspiration for its staff. Kevin Perry is pleased to be a member of the Wiseman Centre team. “This is a special place,” he says. “As a residential worker, I am directly involved in helping men with mental illness, addictions and other challenges. The centre gives hope to people who are discouraged. It’s the care and support from all of the staff that helps the men get back on track and find direction. I am humbled and most fortunate to be part of this work.”

    Major George echoes Kevin’s enthusiasm. “We continue to find new ways of improving service delivery and program development. Every day lives are impacted for good.”

    by Captain Kim Walter