As Good As It Gets!

Dec 30, 2014 by

IMG_3589Shawn came to Shepherds of Good Hope four years ago as a life completely out of control. He had been homeless many times because of his rampant use of alcohol and drugs. He had been a husband and father but never knew how to be either one. His life was one big party, occasional violent confrontations and jail time.

Shawn had no positive and caring role models in his life as he and his three other siblings were taken away from his Mother and step Father when he was very young. He had suffered so much trauma, neglect and abuse at the hand of his parents that he was brought to the Royal Ottawa Hospital and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the age of 5.

Shawn hadn’t a chance at any normalcy in his life from this time onward. He bounced from foster home back to his parents and foster homes again. He quit school at 16 to find work and escape the horrors of home life but the street can be very cruel. Soon Shawn was accustomed to hard drugs and alcohol without discipline. He knew no limits and when his demons raised their ugly heads he succumbed. He was also suffering from psychotic episodes that crippled him further and he reached out for help to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

At the same time a friend of Shawn told him about Shepherds of Good Hope. He told him that he could go there and be taken care of and that is exactly what Shawn did. Between his councillor at CMHA and the staff of Shepherds of Good Hope Shawn was able to get some ID, Open a bank account, learn how to budget and get psychiatric treatment. Shawn was responding well and soon moved from the shelter to Hope Living that was then at 256 King Edward Avenue. Here he was asked if he would like a job with a social enterprise of Shepherds of Good Hope and he jumped at the opportunity. It was called Ellen’s delights and soon Shawn was ordering and delivering all the food for meetings and receptions at Shepherds of Good Hope. He was also encouraged by staff to release his creativity by painting and soon he was exhibiting his paintings at art shows and selling some of it. Others became interested and he decided to teach art classes to anyone who would like to try their hand at painting.

When Hope Living was moved to our Kanata location Shawn became an ambassador for Shepherds of Good Hope by welcoming visitors and other clients to the building. He also continued to operate a social enterprise at the tuck shop there.

His self-esteem was soaring. He says that he was surrounded by opportunities, direction, counselling and support. Soon Shawn started to set goals for himself and the very first goal was to get an apartment at our 208 St. Andrew Street residence and so he registered to be on the list for upcoming rentals. When Shawn learned that he had made it to first on the list he said he almost cried with joy. His goal was accomplished. He would have the opportunity to have his very own home.

Not only does Shawn have his own well-kept apartment but he is working proudly with other residents on their communal garden in the back of the property. He continues with Ellen’s Delights and his art classes and he has registered for a 12 week course on food preparation in hopes to get a job in the food service industry upon completion.

Time can heal most wounds and this past Christmas Shawn reconciled with his Mother and asked her into his home where they had a pleasant visit and shared presents.

Shawn tells us that “Life has been quite an adventure and now nothing will hold me back. This really is as good as it gets.”

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