The Ottawa Pie The Mayor Challenge
The Mayor of Ottawa has agreed to have a pie throw in his face if we can raise $10,000 for Operation Come Home!
At the age of 19, I found myself homeless with nowhere to go. Although I knew there were homeless shelters in the city, I had heard such bad things about them that I felt an empty garage (which I had access to) would be a better option than going to a shelter. It was late October and there I was, sleeping on an old shabby futon I bought on Kijiji for $10. I was hurting, I was scared, and I was alone. I felt hopeless, what was I going to do? Where was I going to live? It was overwhelming to even think about.
In early winter, on a cold and snowing night, I was wandering around downtown and became hungry. With no money on me for food, I thought I could try going to the Shepherds of Good Hope, just to get a meal. As I went inside to get food, I found the place to be pretty good. It seemed scary at first, but I found that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. When I asked about a bed to stay, they told me that they had one, so I decided to stay the night. That night there were two fights in the shelter. As I began to fall asleep I felt someone grab under my pillow to see if there was anything of value. Still it was better than before.
When I moved to the youth shelter, I didn’t know where I would go next or what might happen even a week from then. I had left everything I knew behind and I was on my own. The instability and insecurity was very hard for me. It contributed to intense anxiety and I had difficulty coping with the emotions that I was feeling. I wondered if I would ever make it out of there, if I would ever succeed, if I would ever have stability. At some points, I just wanted to give up.
In trying to cope with everything I was going through, I began to drink and use drugs to escape the pain. If I could get drunk or high, even if it was just for an hour or two, I wouldn't have to feel the pain. So I began to use, more and more, to escape my reality and I became addicted. I remember one night, when buying my drug of choice downtown, I was jumped by 6 men. They beat me up and took everything I had. Covered in blood, I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital to get stitches in my head. The next day, I went to the same spot to buy more. The addiction cost me everything I had. It was destroying my life. I knew if I continued to use, it would just hurt me more, but the pain I felt without my drug of choice was so unbearable that I didn’t care if it hurt me, I just needed to escape.
I wanted better for myself, I wanted to change. With time and perseverance, I mustered up everything I had and faced the realities and the consequences of my choices. I began to take back control of my life. With help from Operation Come Home, I moved into my very first apartment and began living independently. I was referred to an addictions program in Operation Come Home called Project STEP, where I began to work on my addiction with a counselor. I learned healthy ways of coping and reflected on what I could do to better my life. I began working at FarmWorks, a social enterprise where homeless and at-risk youth grow organic vegetables and gained valuable job experience.I went on to complete a three month addictions treatment program and came back clean and ready to continue work on my life goals.
Now, nearly four years later, I work part time at a local coffee shop, I live on my own, I’ve been clean and sober for over two years, and I’m in college studying business marketing. I have had to fight many battles and climb many hills to get to where I am today, and I couldn’t have gotten here without the help and support of Operation Come Home. I want to make sure that the next Shlomo to walk through the doors of OCH has the help and support that I was given to get to where I am today. So we’re raising $10,000 to pie Mayor Jim Watson in the face! Who’s in?!
What is Operation Come Home?
Operation Come Home is a local non-profit organization that works with homeless and at-risk youth in the city of Ottawa. Operation Come Home offers a variety of programs and services including: a drop-in and resource center, employment programs, an alternative high school, a housing program, an addictions support program, counselling services, and more. They also operate 3 social enterprises to employ youth and give them valuable life skills, experience, and job training. For more information about the great work Operation Come Home does visit www.operationcomehome.ca