Message from our Executive Director
As the last of the snow melts and we move into warmer days, people all over Calgary are warming up barbecues and getting excited for the Stampede. For many it is a time to relax—but here at the Dream Centre, we are as busy as ever. There will always be men in need of help and hope, just as there will always be God’s love to welcome them.
With the coming and going of our 10th anniversary, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what the next ten will bring. With your help we have come so far. This year alone we have served over 90,000 meals and seen our 800th recovery graduate. We have already seen many young men graduate from our new Youth Program and look forward to seeing them be able to enjoy their summer healthy and restored.
We who work at the Dream Centre have the incredible privilege of witnessing life change every day. Men pulling themselves out of the depths of addiction and reconnecting with their families, young men escaping a dangerous cycle to face the path ahead of them with new faith. Their stories stay with us, remind us to persevere, to forgive ourselves, and to trust.
I am excited to share some of these stories of hope with you in this issue of Transformations—stories like Ben’s, who overcame a severe drug addiction and stood to face his past crimes head-on. I want to thanks you for your continued partnership, and am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for this summer.
My name is Ben, and without the Calgary Dream Centre I would not be alive today.
My problems started when I was very young. My mom was raising me all by herself and so she had to work a lot and didn’t realize what was going on; from the age of four until I was twelve her best friend’s son molested me. I didn’t quite understand what was going on at first but I knew that it was bad and so I began to act out because I wanted to hide my pain.
I was twelve when I first tried drugs. I began drinking to deal with the guilt and the pain—I needed some sort of outlet. Soon the drinking turned into an everyday affair. The cocaine really became a problem when I was eighteen and I began to steal in order to afford it.
I began to drink and do drugs so much that I forgot why I was doing it, it stopped being about escaping my pain and became about the fact that I couldn’t live without using. It got so bad that I had two heart attacks, one when I was sixteen, the other when I was twenty-four. Even while I was in the hospital I had my friends bring me cocaine because I was that reliant on it.
I got into a car accident, which was a huge wake up call. I realized that it was time for me to get my act together, so I went to detox and sought out a program for victims of abuse. For the first time, I opened up about the abuse I had experienced as a child. I quit my drinking and using drugs and began attending meetings, doing twelve-step work, and working on my education.
I got into university and began working. I loved my job, but I began to feel overly confident in myself and slowly stopped going to twelve-step meetings. About two and a half years after I finished my treatment program, I started drinking again.
This time I was introduced to opiates. I became heavily addicted and began injecting heroin. Somehow I managed to work, keep up my grades, and maintain my addictions. I would even make sure I got my fix while at work. I finally realized how bad it was when I was falling asleep at work because I was high. My addictions were spiraling out of control and putting myself, and others, in danger at work. I didn’t want anything bad to happen so I left.
I went back for my last semester of school, but I couldn’t even get through a day without heroin. Morphine and other opiates were not enough for me anymore. I didn’t want to lower my GPA so I dropped out of school and continued using. I even began stealing from family members to support my addiction.
When my mother found out she was incredibly hurt and disappointed, but I was so far gone I didn’t even care. I didn’t care when she withdrew contact. I didn’t care that I had hurt her. I didn’t care that I had stolen from my family. I just paid her back from my own savings and moved on.
I continued using heroin until I had no money left. I was so desperate that I robbed a bank in August 2014, and overdosed the next night. When the paramedics came I begged them to let me die. They took me to the psychiatric ward and I was willing to do anything to get out of there so I applied at the Calgary Dream Centre.
“At the Dream Centre is where I learned that to be successful in recovery you have to be honest...without this place I would’ve been dead.”–Ben
I got into the Dream Centre in September 2014 and it only took two weeks of the recovery program before I went and turned myself in to the police. I spent a night in jail and got my court dates; it was terrifying, but at the Dream Centre I learned that to be successful in recovery you have to be honest. Because of this place I felt compelled to turn myself in because I knew that if I kept my crimes a secret it would only drive me to use to bury my guilt. I told the staff and the board here about my crimes and thankfully they let me back, because without this place I would’ve been dead.
This place gave me a faith in God that I did not have before. It’s different, you can feel the honesty here and the staff go the extra mile wherever they can for each and every one of us who walk through those doors.
I have been working at the Dream Centre and trying to help the other clients out by sharing the knowledge I have from my own experiences. I have court coming up and I know I am going to do time, but the minute I get out of jail I am ready to go back to school and to finish my degree.
The Calgary Dream Centre saved my life, now I am ready to go and live it.
With the help of our generous donors — within our communities and beyond — we’ve been empowered to improve the statistics of homelessness and poverty. See your impact on the Dream Centre, as expressed in the outcomes of our programs, outlined below.
Below, we have broken down our Program Expenses further.
A Look back at 2014/2015
91,250 meals were served at Calgary Dream Centre
116 men graduated from our Recovery Program
171 men were housed
750 Counselling and Relapse Prevention appointments happened
600 cups of coffee were served every day, year to date
“Through the treatment my life has been completely transformed...I have gotten so much more understanding of myself and my purposes here.”—Jason
In order to continue with our programs, and to keep increasing these numbers, we need ongoing help.