If I hadn’t met Kelowna’s Gospel Mission staff who actually saw me and gave me safety and security, I would be dead.
My name is Jamie, and I was born in Kelowna almost 60 years ago. My orientation played a lot in my struggles to accept who I was. I always felt different.
My addiction cycles started with cough syrup at 8 years old. Why? Because back then, cough syrup ingredients included morphine, heroin, and alcohol.
It meant I didn’t have to feel my emotions…my pain, I didn’t have to feel me anymore.
I lived with the addiction cycle for many years. When I was active in my addiction, I was struggling financially and not eating, except for at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. Then three years ago, my housing was declared illegal and I was evicted.
That was my first time literally being on the streets.
If I stayed there, my addictions would have gotten worse and I would have killed myself — I was going that way. Thankfully, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission provided safety and got me out of that terror by being gentle.
When I first came here, I was terrified. But they gave me someone to talk to, someone who saw me, and that’s something I needed. I needed to be seen and heard, instead of just being a number.
This place really changed my life.
I entered a three-month addiction and recovery program, where I was given the tools to deal with life without being re-traumatized. Eventually, I went back to school to become a professional counsellor.
I’m 11 months into second stage recovery, and I recently graduated with a community support worker diploma. Now I work as a Resident Support Worker for Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and I’m finding I’m good at what I’m doing here. I can honestly tell people, “I’ve been there, I’ve done that.” One of the residents said, “I like you because you talk to me and not through me” — that keeps me sober.
I’d like to become a caseworker, so I can work with people who want to get better.
I’d be dead if I hadn’t come to Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, where they saw me and gave me safety and security, food and nutrition. Without those services, how many more of us wouldn’t make it?
Thank you for your unending generosity. Your support helps to save lives. It means someone is there for people, giving them safety, security, dignity, and respect without judgment.