My name is Jonathan, I’m 44 years old and I’m eternally grateful to be here.
Four years ago I hurt my back weightlifting. I had major surgery and a disc removed. That’s when I started taking prescription pain medication. When the doctor cut me off, I eventually began using heroin.
I was living on and off the street, sometimes staying in shelters. But then I started going blind.
I had to navigate Penticton without my eyes, but it got to the point where I was getting lost. I would go to the store and find myself wandering around dangerous areas where people started beating me up and robbing me.
One payday, I cashed my whole check of $1,100 and was immediately robbed… I couldn’t take care of myself and I was all alone. So, I tried to kill myself by eating a ball of heroin.
When I woke up, I was really surprised it didn’t kill me. When I took myself to the hospital, the doctor told me I had cataracts and that they could fix my eyes in Kelowna.
“I believe that losing my eyesight was God’s way of slowing me down, telling me there’s something I’m supposed to be doing, and I’d better do it before it’s too late.” – Jonathan
It was then that I made the decision to stop using drugs completely. If I kept using, I knew I was going to die.
My first day at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, I was pretty sketched out. I couldn’t see. But there were a lot of people that helped me. The frontline workers soothed my anxieties and reassured me it was all going to be okay. My caseworker, Richard, made arrangements for detox, health care, my eyes and finances—he helped me more than anyone.
Everyone saw I was doing the work, and moved heaven and earth to get me the surgery as soon as possible.
Now that I’ve had one eye done, I can see and get around on my own for the first time. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do with myself, but for now I’m just taking it slow. I’ve set some attainable goals, and I’ll keep on working on them.
I think losing my eyesight was God nudging me and saying, “It could be worse.” It really opened my eyes—mind the pun!
To everyone who donates, thank you for helping me get my eyesight back. You’ve done so much for me. The name of this place speaks volumes: Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, the Gospel to seek out your fellow man and do good things for them.