Our Stories

"If you’re spending all your time trying to stay warm, that is all you can think about."

Mike Kenyon, Graduate of DARE Program at Good Shepherd Ministries
Michael, 2019

I was living in a house, and the landlord came to change the lock on my room and tell me to leave. I was standing in front of my house, and one of the other guys said: “The only thing I can suggest is a homeless shelter.”

He suggested Good Shepherd because he had stayed there himself. He said, “It’s the best shelter I can think of, it’s the best one in the city.”

I came to Good Shepherd and stayed a couple of months. I got my own place again. But the drinking was just as bad if not worse. It was so bad, someone told me that I needed to go to the hospital.

At St. Joseph’s Health Centre detox, they recommended DARE. They said, “It will give you stability and it will give you time to sort things out.” So I applied and I came for a quick interview, and when a bed came up, they called and I went to DARE. It was just before Christmas 2009.

I stayed for about six months. But the whole time I was in DARE, the whole time I was in treatment, I was planning to get out and drink.

I got a place in the east end with the help of the Resettlement Program. But I did nothing but drink, maybe a little bit of work. Then even my part-time job didn’t want me.

I drank vodka heavily. And because I wanted every drop of alcohol, I used to turn the bottles upside down until they had drained dry. So one day, I sat in my room and looked around at the upside-down bottles everywhere, and I said to myself “This is just ridiculous. I can’t do this anymore.”

So I called my Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and he said, “You can keep on doing what you’re doing, and I can guarantee things will keep getting worse. Or you can trust me and do what I say. And what I say is: you need to go back to detox, back to DARE, back to treatment.”

That’s what I did. After I finished treatment, I applied to George Brown College’s culinary management program and I graduated. I applied for and started work in remote camps for the oil industry in Alberta – took the last of my money and bought a bus ticket.

That was in 2014, and I’ve been working there ever since. I’ve been sober for seven and a half years.

The DARE Program gave me a place to be safe. I wasn’t hungry, cold, exposed. There was some discipline. And there was hope and respect.

The first time I went through DARE, I knew I wasn’t serious, and I was ashamed of what I was doing. It worked the second time.

When you’re at DARE, you can relax and think about how to fix things. If you’re spending all your time trying to stay warm, that is all you can think about.

The DARE Program is shelter, it is home. If you don’t have that, you’ll never get anywhere.

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