Ken and his seven siblings grew up on a farm, struggling to live off the land. His alcoholic father forced the children to do all the chores. Ken describes his passing in 1983 as a relief.
He moved to Dawson Creek, falling in with a crowd of drug dealers and drinkers. He soon became fed up with that life, and moved to Kelowna for recovery. Unfortunately, a series of bad choices led Ken to seek shelter at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
Over the next few years, Ken struggled to find his feet. Though he had a job in construction, he was unstably housed and was a frequent guest at the shelter. He settled down with a partner, only to lose his housing again when she fell ill and was hospitalized.
Sadly, Ken’s partner passed away much too soon. Ken fell into a deep depression and wondered how he was going to make it through. Gradually, as he spent more of his time at the Mission, he realized that helping out in the community actually helped him deal with his own sadness. Soon, Ken even took on a regular volunteer role, all while finding solace in talking to Pastor Lester and the people in his AA group.
“I used to come up here and have lunch or dinner. It meant a lot to me. To be able to come up here and have a hot meal, be with people, talking with people. Interacting.” —Ken
Over the course of the following months, Ken faced other challenges, but with the help of his caseworker and the Mission staff, he was able to keep pushing forward.
Ken has been fully sober for over half a year and is facing life head-on. He lives in his own place now, but returns to the Mission daily to help out with making and serving coffee, organizing community activities and just chatting with his friends and sharing mutual encouragement.
“When I’m here and busy, I’m not out drinking,” he says. “The Mission has given me purpose. I never really had a purpose in my life before.”
Looking forward, Ken would like to get an education. He hopes to become a caregiver, maybe even a counsellor so he can pay it forward and help others as he was helped.
“Most of all, I attribute everything I have to God,” he says. “If God wasn’t in the mix, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I encourage everyone to volunteer at the Mission. I also want to show people that if they choose to turn their lives in a different direction, that it is possible.”