We are very excited to announce the return of our "Sidewalk Stories."
We started this saga in 2020 in an effort to bring our clients voices to you.
Now as we continue in our commitment to breakdown the stigmas associated with Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness - we are back in real time, with real people.
Here we will be sharing weekly stories, quotes and statements from the friends we serve here, in our community.
It is important to note that while consent has been provided, names and places have been changed to protect the identity and location of those involved.
We are grateful for all of the people who have chosen to share their stories challenges and accomplishments with us and we can't wait to begin sharing some of them with you.
"𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒆. 𝑵𝒐𝒕 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓. 𝑵𝒐𝒕 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒆𝒅. 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑰 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒎𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒖𝒑 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕," 𝒔𝒂𝒚𝒔 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒇𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒅, 𝒂𝒔 𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎 𝒐𝒄𝒄𝒖𝒑𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒆𝒔. "𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒆 20 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆 𝒌𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒎𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒏𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕, 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑰 𝒂𝒎 𝒂𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒔 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒊𝒕 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒊𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒚𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆. 𝑰 𝒘𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒕 𝒎𝒚𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇. 𝑶𝒓 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒆.. 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒚 𝒆𝒍𝒔𝒆. 𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝑰 𝒇𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒎𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒕, 𝑰 𝒄𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐 𝒘𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒂𝒕 𝒏𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆. 𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒕, 𝑰 𝒅𝒐𝒏'𝒕 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒕𝒐 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅."
**This to be just one small example of how untreated mental illness and trauma result in a parallel path to addiction and homelessness. Without further accessibility to mental health services we are finding more and more clients falling victim to systemic damnation similar to our friend here.
Our awareness will always be key for it is easy to forget the things that are not right in front of us.
Despite having obtained housing, many of our clients still find themselves downtown or on the streets during the day and night.
After encountering one of our housed clients several nights in a row - at a very late hour, we had to ask;
How come you're always out here still?
Here is what he told us,
"I have a place near the ***** ***** but, I feel that having the crosses at the bottom right there is a bit controversial for me. I have two of my best friends there. One of them my best buddies, he was the one who brought me right out of my nutshell. He taught me how to travel, take care of myself, just little things you know. He taught me to have fun. He showed me alot of that stuff and I'll never forget it. He taught me how to be a better me so -to speak".
It is enlightening to see the many factors including the not- so obvious ones that keep our friends returning to the streets.
We are hoping that in the future we can collectively use this information to establish more resources that cater to these specific needs.
"I looked up and there he was. Tall and incredibly thin. I immediately recognized his face and felt a stronger pang of empathy than usual. His eyes, while a beautiful color, appeared lifeless. It was an old classmate. It is not unusual to encounter people you may know out here but, I knew this one a little more than the others.
We were a little closer. As I handed him food I smiled and held eye contact as I wondered if he would recognize me. While I could swear his face lit up a little, I could be just as sure that I had imagined it. - He seemed so sad, lost and hurt.
"Thank you," he said as I handed him a warm shepards pie.
"You're welcome," I replied.
"Thank you, " he repeated, still making eye contact.
"You're welcome," I responded, slightly puzzled as to if he hadn't heard me.
"T-thank you, Thank you," he began to stutter as he began to wander away, "Thank you, thank you."
I was bewildered. This didn't resemble typical intoxication.
He wanders back looking around. And as he approaches he says again, "Thank you, thank you," before once again wandering off into the distance. It was then I realized that I didn't know this person at all, at least not anymore. I knew who they used to be and I couldn't help wondering how this could have happened in the years since we parted? Where are his loved ones? But — you know, as well as I do; these things can happen to anybody."
— Outreach Worker
"My day-to-day life being homeless is a struggle, waking up not knowing if you’re gonna get robbed; not knowing if somebody’s gonna cut up your tent. Finding food is probably one of the hardest things to deal with if you aren’t on schedule with the Mission and their breakfasts, lunches and suppers. Also, it is hard to find a spot to go to the bathroom and shower. Personally I never thought I’d ever be homeless but, it can happen to anyone." — Anonymous, 27 years old.