My name is Allen and I would like to share my story with you.
Although I was too young to remember, I know that at only one-month-old I was put into my first foster home. My mother was in an abusive relationship and it wasn’t safe for me to live with her. Little did I know that by the time I turned 17, I would be living in my 19th foster home.
I remember my mom visiting me and thinking that was normal. For a time, I went back and forth between living with my mom and living in foster care.
Some of the foster homes were really good and loving, but others were neglectful and abusive. I remember being in one foster home that was really good. I was with a family in a large home on a farm and they truly took care of me. I loved that family. I told my social worker I didn’t want to move anymore, but it wasn’t in my control, and eventually, I had to.
Leaving that family was traumatic. I felt like I finally found a home and then it was taken away from me. That’s when I stopped caring and establishing emotional ties with anything.
When I was 17, I moved into a group home. That’s where my drug addiction began. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to make friends and leave my old life behind, and doing drugs seemed like the best way to both numb out and be socially accepted. I wanted to be wanted, and so I did whatever it took.
Later in life, I had some successes. I started a business that took off for a while, but it didn’t last long, and when it fell, I fell with it. This brought me to a new low in my addiction. Eventually, I sought help through the Calgary Dream Centre. I made some great connections, but shortly after graduating my mom got sick; I thought I was strong enough to go and help, but I wasn’t and shortly after I fell into my addiction again. This time I went even deeper than before.
I hit rock bottom one night when my friend overdosed in front of me and passed away. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I broke down and prayed to God. I told him I needed a way out—that I couldn’t do it by myself.
Shortly after that moment, I received a text message from the Youth Program Manager at the Calgary Dream Centre. It was out of nowhere, and the message invited me to come back and try the program again. That was my sign and so I said yes.
When I arrived at the Dream Centre for the second time, I wasn’t judged for relapsing, but instead, I was welcomed with open arms. The connection and love I felt from the people were overwhelming.
I was met with the help I needed. I walked in at only 97 pounds, so the meals that were provided made a huge difference. I was able to get my meal, and if I was still hungry I could get a second helping because there was always enough. When I really think about what the Dream Centre has given me, I think of the connections I’ve made and the confidence I’ve gained.
The Dream Centre building is like a family. You don’t even feel like you are in a treatment centre. For the first time, I made genuine friends and experienced genuine laughter. Now I have a job that I love. I have a relationship with God. I am proud of where I am, and I am proud to be me, comfortable in my own skin. I can look myself in the mirror for the first time and truly be happy.
I still have my good days and my bad days, but my bad days are nowhere near where they were in my addiction. I’m so happy where I am today, and that’s what the Dream Centre has given me.