Our Stories

"All I had was a $10 guitar and a suitcase of clothes"

The author of the story, Patrick, looks at the camera and smiles. He is a man in his mid-fifties with glasses, short grey hair, and a small beard.Behind him is a hand-lettered sign with a prayer from St. Francis.
Patrick, 2019

I arrived at Good Shepherd Centre on the day of the big storm this past winter. I sat in the DARE office, a broken man.

My brother had given me money so I could get to Good Shepherd. All I had was a $10 guitar and a suitcase of clothes.

Back in October 2013, I laid off the sales staff at my Mississauga business. I rented a basement room with no windows. And I smoked crack 24 hours a day for five years.

I was down to 130 pounds. I was living on icing sugar and crack, crawling around the floor of my apartment. Every now and then I used to pull myself together and take care of some of my customers so I could get money. Mostly, I just wanted to die.

I had stopped believing in God. But in December 2018, I said a prayer: “If you’re there, give me the willingness to be willing.”

The next day, I picked up the phone, called the number that helps people get treatment, and said: “I need help.” The worker had a list of all the treatment centres. The waiting list was anywhere from six weeks or longer. I told her I wouldn’t last that long.

She called me back the next day and she said she had found the DARE Program. She told me I could stay at DARE until treatment.

DARE saved my life and it brought me back to life. I can’t give enough back for what they’ve done for me. I’m no longer alone. I’m seeing the world differently.

I remember my first day in Bed 25 in DARE. I started journaling that day. I put a tiny dot on the front of that journal – a dot the size of a mustard seed of willingness. Then every day I was sober, I drew a leaf growing from that seed. Now I have 180 leaves – it’s turning into a tree.

I’ve told my story to student volunteer groups 14 times. I told them about my first ‘drunk’ — I was 7 and with my father, who was an alcoholic. I told them about growing up feeling that I was never good enough.

I told them about starting businesses (three times) and using financial success, drugs, and drinking to make me feel like I could measure up. But I never felt good enough.

In DARE, I followed the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I got to Step 4 and I looked at myself and I was a mess. I said “God, I don’t think I have that much time left. Just keep me alive long enough to make amends to my children.” Then my oldest son got in touch with me. And then my daughter — I had not seen her since she was nine.

Christine (Pastoral Care Manager) gave me a list of prayers. There’s a prayer by St. Francis that I wrote up to put on my wall. When I left DARE – I’ve moved into housing now – I gave that prayer to one of the new men in DARE, and I told him “This prayer saved my life, I hope it will save yours.”

Share This Post
Donate, Make a Difference

Contact Us for the Good Shepherd Gala

ANGELS AMONG US Good Shepherd Gala Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Good Shepherd Ministries has postponed its annual Angels Among Us fundraising gala until further notice. We...

Continue Reading...

DARE (Drug and Alcohol
Recovery Enrichment)

Good Shepherd has a 25-bed DARE Program gives homeless men with addiction a safe, supportive place to live while waiting for treatment.

Continue Reading...