A Life Renewed

Mar 26, 2014 by

IMG_2992 John B 2John is a quiet, gentle soul who lives at our 208 St. Andrew Street Residence.  From outside appearances John looks like a contented man without a care in the world but behind those blue-grey eyes lives a man who has seen and experienced great loss in his lifetime. His journey was a difficult one but with kindness, compassion and courage John was able to turn his pain into peace, his sadness into joy and his loss into purpose.

John came to Shepherds of Good Hope in 1992 – a broken man.  He was despondent, mentally and physically unwell and lost.  He had nothing but the clothes on his back.  He had been through a tragic burnout at work, a painful divorce and a disastrous bankruptcy when his business collapsed.  As a result, he turned to the bottle for comfort only to realize an even deeper despair. John’s world had completely unraveled and he was in a state of bewilderment, disbelief and depression.  John had lost his family, his job and most of his friends.

Life can be cruel and no one can be prepared for its terrible pitfalls and in John’s case he had hit rock bottom.

It wasn’t always this bad.

John was born in Ottawa to a middleclass family, the second of six children. His Father was a well-known journalist writing for the Montreal Gazette.  His Mother was a proud homemaker.  John remembers a happy childhood living on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and summering at the cottage outside of Barry’s Bay.  He was a bright student in school but not very interested in academics and as such, left high school before completing it.

John became an Insurance Broker with Metropolitan Life.  He married and had three beautiful boys but his salary was not sufficient to keep his family comfortable. John took a second job but the stress of holding down two jobs was taking its toll and John became increasingly more depressed.  He drank to mask his depression but that was just making things worse.  Soon, his marriage and work suffered and in 1992 John’s wife filed for divorce and he found himself homeless, unemployed and totally alone.

Providence led John to Shepherds of Good Hope and the beginning of a new, healing path.  He entered the Emergency Men’s Shelter in a very bad state and staff immediately sought to provide him with the help he needed to achieve stability.  John in desperation to stay in contact with his boys would agree to meet them on the basketball court, at their schools or at a restaurant.  This was hardly ideal but little by little John was showing improvements in mood and purpose.  Soon he was taking an interest in his life again. With the proper medication and making a conscious decision to stay sober, the dark veil of depression was lifting and John put his name on the waiting list for an apartment in one of our supportive living facilities at 208 St. Andrew Street Residence. There he could have his own clean, completely refurbished apartment where he could experience safety, inner peace, dignity and independence.  The staff from Shepherds of Good Hope are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and could provide the support and assistance John and all of the other residents need.

John now calls 208 St. Andrew Street Residence home.  He continues to live a clean and sober life.  He has his own well-cared for apartment where he keeps his belongings safe from harm. It is a warm and cheery place and a refuge from the busy downtown hustle and bustle.   This Christmas was an especially joyous time for John and his three boys. Several of his brothers and sisters joined them at John’s home where he was able to entertain them in comfort by serving fresh, homemade, shortbread cookies that were proudly baked by him.

John no longer fears for his safety nor does he feel alone.  He knows everyone in the building and tells people that it feels like one big, happy family.   His many talents as poet, wood carver and musician are shared not only with his family but his extended family too.
John’s journey has been long and arduous at times but he knows that he could not have had a second chance without Shepherds of Good Hope to help him through it.

Easter is a time for renewal and rebirth – a chance to start over. With the help and compassion from Shepherds of Good Hope, John has had a second chance.  At this special time of year, please help us to help others like John who have suffered so tragically so that they too can have a second chance. Together, we can make a difference.

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