Darwin gives thanks

Sep 29, 2015 by


When Thanksgiving is celebrated next month, Darwin doesn’t have to think twice about what he’s thankful for. He’s thankful for having the chance to reconnect with his son and his two grandchildren.

Darwin says without Shepherds of Good Hope, he wouldn’t be spending time with his son and his two grandchildren this Thanksgiving.

“My son is my life. I love him more than anything. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him.”

This past June, Darwin beamed with pride as he watched his son get married. Darwin even walked the bride down the aisle. He wants the best for his grandchildren, both boys, and is proud of the type of father his son has become. Like all grandparents, he likes to spoil his grandchildren with love.

Father and son didn’t always have a close, loving relationship. Darwin spent years battling alcoholism, homelessness and drug use.

Darwin painfully remembers the day when he decided to turn to Shepherds of Good Hope to get help to turn his life around for the better,

“There was this young man sitting across from me. I was trying to sell him drugs and he said, ‘Dad, it’s me, your son.’ I didn’t even recognize my own son. That’s the day I came to the Shepherds of Good Hope.”

Darwin lived at the downtown shelter. He enrolled in the managed alcohol program (MAP) where he was examined by medical professionals and case workers. They devised a plan based on his health and tolerance levels.

Like all MAP participants, he was given a small amount to drink every hour. By strictly monitoring his alcohol intake and ensuring he ate three healthy meals a day and slept in a warm bed, staff were able to stabilize Darwin’s health.

A year later, he was able to move into The Oaks, a Shepherds of Good Hope supportive living facility that houses the managed alcohol program. (A managed alcohol program is still run at the downtown location). At The Oaks, Darwin has his own room. He also shares a common area with other residents where they can play board games or socialize. Volunteers in the kitchen provide three healthy meals a day. The Oaks is staffed with medical professionals and case workers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the men and women in program get the best care possible.

Darwin is learning to live independently again. He’s proud of his progress. He knows his life is better thanks to Shepherds of Good Hope. But more importantly for Darwin, his relationship with his son is the strongest it has ever been.

He cherishes the visits to his son’s home and speaks lovingly of his daughter-in-law. “She’s a great cook. She loves to cook for me to try to fatten me up,” he says with a smile.

Like a lot of people this Thanksgiving, Darwin is going to give thanks for his family and enjoy a good meal.

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