Our Stories

"Grateful to have hope and a cause"

Robert MacDonald with commercial dishwasher at Good Shepherd Centre
Rob MacDonald, 2016
Rob MacDonald was raised in Cape Breton, the oldest of nine children. His father lived away from the family during the week, and drank all weekend. His mother struggled to raise nine children with little support. Robert suffered from crippling anxiety, started drinking at 15, and was expelled from school not long after.
 
After a troubled adolescence, he moved to Ontario, worked in factories, and started a family of his own. His relationships failed, and one day he tried crack cocaine. What followed was decades trapped on the streets, with periodic efforts to recover from his addictions. His most recent stay in the DARE Program was in the spring of 2016.
 

Panhandling, using crack – it’s been miserable. Missing family, friends. I’ve not been a brother, a son, a father – with that pain, it’s easier to get high.

I decided to come to Good Shepherd for Thanksgiving a few years ago. I stayed here at the shelter, cleaning up. I went to treatment for 8 weeks. I found housing.

I stayed off drugs until one of my brothers came to visit me. I got high with him because that was what we did when we got together.

But that meant that drug dealers now knew where I lived. Drug dealers infiltrated my place – I had 10 or 15 of them in my place, it was no longer my place.

One day, another gang of dealers burst in and robbed the dealers living at my house of drugs and hoodies, shoes. I just grabbed a backpack and headed to Good Shepherd.

I lived in the shelter for a week and a half. I had a cancer appointment. It went well – the leukemia is in remission. I decided to give this recovery thing another try. I’ve had it with the desire to use.

Staying here in the DARE Program has given me the confidence that I can work again.

I didn’t think I’d change this much in two months. It feels like my spirit is no longer smothered, it is awake now. Today, I have hope again in my life that I can do something.

My daughter is back in my life. I hope to succeed. I’m looking forward to a clean, sober life.

I’m grateful to this place. I appreciate everyone here. They don’t discriminate here, that’s what I love about this place.

I know I have a long road ahead. I have a lot of broken relationships, especially with my children. I’m just going to try to do the best I can. I want to live by my spirit as opposed to my brain. Try to be a solution, not a problem. It’s going to be like that on a daily basis.

My pre-treatment is done here, I’m heading to St. Mike’s for treatment. I’m grateful to have hope and a cause.








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