A Safe Place to Call Home

by British Columbia
Categories: Stories
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A troubled past led me to here.

As long as I could remember, my mother suffered at the hands of men who abused her. I quickly realized that these experiences would soon become the source of my learned helplessness and distrust of people.

Since I was a young boy, my mother and I moved around Canada trying to find our place; as new immigrants from Venezuela, it was difficult for her to find work let alone a place to really call home. In my late teens, we decided to stay in BC where my mother successfully gained steady employment. We were hopeful yet unsure what the future had in store for us.

Pride was something I always struggled with as I grew older; I tried to do a lot on my own and was insistent on denying handouts from others. I want to believe this was the main reason for a lot of the obstacles I later faced…

My whole life I longed to feel a sense of purpose; I wanted to do meaningful work and help others in a capacity that perhaps I could not offer my mother at certain times in our life.

Struggling in my mid-twenties as a part-time cook, I decided to embark on a career change. I wanted to solve this sense of fulfillment I was seeking and I was certain that social work was a way I could make a difference. Little did I know, this willful intention would trigger something inside of me I’ve tried so hard to forget…

Helping others dealing with similar situations I experienced growing up brought to light some of the traumas I tried so hard to forget. The constant reminder of these realities made me unable to take care of myself both mentally and financially.

I began my downward spiral when I was 33.

I started living in my car because I could no longer afford my rent. I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape my memories.

I quickly learned that my life was going to be dark… That’s when my counsellor referred me to The Salvation Army Belkin House. This was a pivotal point for me.

It was here that I graduated from the 90 day program and successfully completed the Relapse Prevention and Counselling & Treatment Program (VAMP). I’m now on my way to earning my Red Seal Certification to achieve my dreams of becoming a chef.

The support I received here was second to none; whether it was supplying me with the books I need to start studying, or teaching me how to make the perfect dish in the kitchen. I’m so grateful that I can reach out to Belkin staff and trust them – something that was lacking for most of my life.

If it weren’t for the The Salvation Army, I would have been using drugs again, living pay-check-to-pay-check and burdened by anger.

If I had to think of one word to describe The Salvation Army it would be ‘Miracle’. Every day I am hopeful and I am grateful for the genuine relationships that have guided me towards a better future.

My progress is no small thing; life keeps moving, but I know I always have a safe place to go.