President’s Message

President’s Message

Since finishing Alcohol & Drug Recovery three years ago, Darrell continues to be a light for others, encouraging them to believe that life can be different. We are blessed to have him on staff today. I am thrilled he gets to share his story of recovery today.

Addiction is complex, often misunderstood. Its root can be trauma, isolation, or loss. Without a strong support system, this pain can have a tragic effect, in many cases, leading to addiction or homelessness. In response, UGM strives to be a pillar of holistic support for those who need it—and with your help, through our A&D Recovery programs for men and women, we are achieving this goal. Our desire is simple: that every person would taste hope and know they are worthy of healing.

Often, this healing begins at a meal. This Thanksgiving season, in October alone, UGM plans to serve over 25,000 hot and nutritious restorative meals. I am so grateful for the compassion you provide in support of this. Thanks to you, valuable lives are being transformed.


William B. Mollard

Discovering Wonder in Recovery

Discovering Wonder in Recovery

While employment is essential to overcoming poverty, Kezia, UGM’s Career Development Counsellor, knows that alumni of Alcohol & Drug (A&D) Recovery often struggle to find jobs that fit their skills; this can breed hopelessness and derail individuals from living healthy, sober lives. That’s why Career Development is now a vital part of UGM’s Employment Services. Work is a vital goal in Career Development, but not the only one: “Our goal is to help each person recognize their strengths and discover the wonder of who they are.”

In Career Development classes, we teach A&D residents how to generate job possibilities that match who they are and how they excel,” Kezia explains. Through A&D classes, community workshops, and one-on-one appointments, people who are working to re-build can receive vital career training and counselling: career brainstorms, goal setting, resume help, interview prep, aid enrolling in education or training, and more.

As residents build a sustainable recovery, strong self-awareness is key. “When people speed up in work, they’ll speed up everywhere else in life,” Kezia explains. “This is one of the first relapse prevention lessons A&D residents learn.” To help people avoid relapse, Kezia focuses on developing and maintaining healthy choices and practices, building intuition for the marketplace. Career Development has proven to be so successful for A&D residents that we’ve opened up this curriculum to guests in Outreach, Emergency Shelter, and beyond.

Kezia notices the biggest barrier in finding work is a lack of confidence, but the biggest joy is watching that barrier dissolve.“When people realize how they themselves participate in their own re-entry into society, it is empowering and hopeful.” 

As we help people achieve small goals, they start to realize their potential. It’s a slow recognition of their competency, and in Career Development at UGM, we believe this process builds confidence and, ultimately, feeds hope.

Thank you for helping people move forward! In the past fiscal year (July 2014-June 2015), via Career Development at UGM, you’ve helped provide the following:

  • 46 ongoing Career Development appointments
  • 40 A&D residents completed the Career Development classroom series
  • 16 people built up-to-date resumes—many for the first time even
  • 14 A&D alumni received First Aid certification

Via meetings with Case Managers, referrals from Outreach, and working with our Career Development Counsellor, UGM helped 26 people find employment last year. 

Don’t Throw Your Life Away

Don’t Throw Your Life Away

I’ve always loved music,” Darrell explains. “But it wasn’t until I picked up a guitar and sang along that I felt I’d found my calling.”

I was a shy kid. When I was drinking, all that shyness went away.” Darrell was 13 when he first felt grabbed by music, and 14 when he first tasted alcohol, so he’s spent most of life wrestling between the two things that gave him a sense of belonging.

By the time he was 21, Darrell realized he had a problem with drinking. For three decades, he repeated the cycle of a functioning alcoholic: live, work, rehab, relapse. Eventually, he moved to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, where he continued to pursue music, his addiction hovering in life’s corner.

I was living in a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel. There were bedbugs and cockroaches everywhere,” he shares. “In an atmosphere like that, if you keep drinking, you get the feeling the walls are moving in on you.”

One day, Darrell came to UGM for a meal. “I had a good dinner here. I sat in a chapel service and listened to what they were saying. I thought, ‘I have to do something about my addiction.’ A seed was planted.” Darrell was a regular community member here for several years, befriending staff and chaplains. It can take years of relationship before someone feels ready to make the change they want; that slow burn is part of life together.

I should’ve done something earlier, but sometimes you need to hit rock bottom,” he says. “In the end, this disease takes so much from you. One day, defeated, I walked down to UGM and poured out everything; they welcomed me into the A&D Recovery Program.”

Knowing he’d done recovery programs in the past, Darrell wanted this time to be different. “In the past, when I found success in sobriety, I’d take over my life again and then crash and burn. Since I’d tried doing it on my own, this was the time to surrender everything. When I came here I said, ‘I’m going to give you a chance, God. I’ve tried everything else.’”

After six months, Darrell celebrated his commencement from the program. He continued in Second-Stage Recovery, living at UGM, and eventually moving into an Affordable Housing unit at Maurice McElrea Place. Today, he is a cherished employee on our Housing Facilities team.

I’m in the same neighbourhood as before but I look at it with different eyes: I view it with compassion instead of judgement,” he shares. “I’m happy. I play music. I like my neighbours. Here, at UGM, there’s hope.
This place is a home.”

Several years ago, Darrell wrote a song called “Don’t Throw Your Life Away,” which is inspired by the struggles he experienced in early adulthood. “It’s a reminder to me,” he says. “And I can see, later on, that it’s meant for others to listen to too. I never did anything with this song because of the booze and my lack of confidence. But I knew that, now that I’m living out my recovery, I wanted to do something with it.” Last November, he visited his brother in Halifax for the first time in fifteen years and they recorded his song together. It’s beautiful, and we invite you to listen to an acoustic version, filmed in Crab Park, below! 

It’s only through your support that stories like Darrell’s are a reality. Remember, just $3.29 provides a warm, hearty meal for someone in need. How many meals will you give?