When Jamie Dollings walked into the Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in June, he had no job, no home, and no hope. Suicidal and struggling with mental illness, he came to the Winnipeg facility in search of a miracle.
“I felt I was lost,” said Dollings, 58. “I was suicidal to the point I didn’t want to live on this Earth anymore. I was fed up. I needed a miracle.”
Born and raised in Winnipeg as an only child with one half-brother, Dollings recalls having a relatively ordinary childhood until his mother’s untimely death.
“My father was in the furniture business. He was a good man, a Christian man,” he said. “I lost my mother at the age of 10; I found her dead on a Sunday morning. I think she had committed suicide. The memory is still there.”
Dollings graduated from high school, but without many hobbies or interests to pursue, he drifted between low-paying, entry-level jobs. When he was in his mid-20s, his father passed away after a long battle with an illness.
“That really tore me apart,” Dollings said. “It was the day before Christmas Eve. I walked into the [hospital] room and I knew he was dead.
“I still have to fight with it every once in a while. It makes me very sad, the fact that he’s gone.”
Around this time, Dollings began to notice something was wrong.
“I started to get sick. My brain started running on its own,” he explained, saying even just sitting still became a challenge because the walls would appear to move. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for which he now takes medication.
Unemployed and with nowhere to live, Dollings’ mental health continued to decline, until recently a worker with the provincial government’s Employment and Income Assistance department suggested he seek out The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre, where found Major Merv Halvorsen.
“For self-preservation, I had to see Major Merv,” Dollings said. “He knew what was going on and we had very intense prayer together. I didn’t need a psychiatrist or anything, I needed a miracle.”
Dollings said he, “felt a supernatural power,” present when he and Major Halvorsen prayed together, and it restored his hope for a brighter future.
Still residing at the Winnipeg Booth Centre, Dollings will continue to have access to food, clothing and shelter, while receiving emotional and spiritual counselling. He said he hopes to find employment and an apartment of his own in the near future.
“The Salvation Army probably saved my life. I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve got a ways to go, but I’m praying on a regular basis. I was lost, but I think I’m found now.
“Don’t give up hope. You might get a miracle.”
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about The Salvation Army's Winnipeg Booth Centre and the services offered, visit wpgboothcentre.ca or call 204-946-9400.