Our Stories

"Being sober and being of service"

Photo of Andre, author of the story
Andre, 2018

I open the door to the taxi, and the driver has already placed my luggage on the street. The street is crowded with a lot of foot traffic, big surprise this is Queen Street in downtown Toronto. I look up and the sign says the ‘the Good Shepherd’. I make my way inside not knowing what to expect.

I meet the receptionist, I meet another counsellor, and then something strange starts to happen. I feel dizzy, my vision starts to cloud, and the reception room starts spinning.

What’s happening to me is the panic, fear, and shock of the situation at hand. It’s all starting to set in that I’ve just lost everything because of my addiction, and that Good Shepherd Ministries is my new home. After a good 60-minute cry with one of the sisters in the chapel, I start to pull it together. I head to my room and wait for whatever is next.

After getting a penchant for the day to day routine within the DARE program of ‘the Shep’ (this is the nickname for Good Shepherd Ministries, commonly used by the clients here), I’m starting to get the hang of things around this building. It isn’t before long that I am chosen to be a team leader after the departure of my predecessor; he was going to another treatment facility. Now it was my turn, ‘next man up’ as they say in the NFL.

Being a team leader in the DARE program is much different than the corporate world that I have grown up in. I was quickly executing tasks that I have never done before in my life. Such as taking an elderly man to the drug store to pick up his medication, unload donation trucks in the middle of the night, speak to kids about my life, serving food to the homeless, and mentor the addicts on how things work in the DARE program.

After a lifetime of world experience, I was now in new territory. Testing my limits, patience, humility, and how I would deal with all of this and my own addiction.

I would get tired, complain to myself at times. Then a moment of clarity would set in, and it would send me another reminder … a reminder that being sober and being of service to others is the greatest nobility that one could offer. The fact that there is something out there bigger than myself. A rare chance to be part of something special within this place.

These are some of the life lessons that the Good Shepherd has taught me, and reminded me of. I am reminded every day that the work we do is not just important to us and our recovery. There is a community that depends on us to do what we do. Even on the hardest of days, the smallest gesture to a complete stranger is a constant reminder that you can make a difference. If a random act of kindness to someone else could bring such good in this world, just imagine what it could do for you.

It is hard to believe that it took losing everything I had for me to land in this place on Queen Street. It is also in this place on Queen Street, where I would gain everything that I never had.

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