Terry Lived in a Storage Locker for Two Claustrophobic Years

Five years ago, Terry was about to move into a home. But, it suddenly burnt down. With nowhere else to go on such short notice, Terry felt his only real option was to hide out in his storage locker. The two years and 14 days he spent here were agonizing.

Terry was sexually abused as a child, resulting in shame and severe social anxiety. At 18, he discovered he could ease the harrowing pain by drinking, which spiralled into a 40-year addiction.

Guilt, shame and fear affected my whole life.Guilt, shame and fear affected my whole life.

While Terry was secretly living in his locker, this anxiety and addiction only intensified. Freed from the cost of monthly rent, Terry spent his money on alcohol, numbing his guilt, shame, and fear.

After Trying to Detox on his Own, Terry Hit Rock Bottom

When a security guard finally confronted him, Terry had to find another living situation. Since it was early summer, he decided to sleep in city parks.

After trying to taper off drinking on his own one night, Terry suffered from multiple seizures. When he regained consciousness, every single one of his belongings had been stolen.

Desperate for safety and sobriety, Terry spent a night in the hospital. In this moment, Terry knew his life had hit rock bottom, and that he couldn’t pull himself up out of it alone.

I needed to be somewhere safe.I needed to be somewhere safe.

Terry Came to UGM, Where Ken Invited Him to Stay for a Meal

The next day, Terry made his way to Union Gospel Mission. Nervously, Terry told Ken, UGM’s Front Desk Worker, that he needed a place to sleep. “Ken looked at me and said, ‘What do you really need?’ I said, ‘I want to get sober.’”

Ken invited Terry to stay for a meal, but the crowded dining room triggered his anxiety. The Outreach staff took notice, and sat down with him at a comfortable seat. “Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid,” Terry remembers.

The first meal was me starting to socialize.The first meal was me starting to socialize.

In Recovery, Terry Overcame Shame

Terry’s social anxiety caused him to keep up his guard when he first entered recovery. But everything at UGM is designed with a supportive community in mind. “What ended up drawing me in was gathering for meals every day,” Terry explains. “I needed that, to learn to build a family again.”

The noise in my head is gone.The noise in my head is gone.

Building trust with his recovery community, Terry began bravely working to overcome addiction from its root. Here, he finally opened up about his childhood trauma. This loosened the lifelong bondage of shame, and for the first time, Terry found peace.

Today, Terry has Found Freedom and Family

Since, Terry has rebuilt his life with grit and determination. An internship on UGM’s Maintenance team has since become both a full-time job, and a family where he belongs.

Today, he is no longer clouded by shame and a secret addiction. Instead, Terry has a freedom he’s never had. “I don’t have to bury stuff anymore,” he shares. “I have a safe community, and a feeling of family.”

This renewed life wouldn’t be possible without caring people like you. Today, Terry is celebrating 3 years of sobriety. Thank you for giving Terry a place, and people to permanently call home!

Miracles Begin With a Meal

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” – 1 John 4:7

Friend, I am so grateful for the love you have for your neighbours. It is your kind heart that inspires us to wholly love every person who walks through Union Gospel Mission’s doors.

Love one another: it’s a simple command, yet, as you read, it changed Terry’s life. You see, that first encounter—the words exchanged with Outreach staff, the meal among people who cared—gave Terry a glimpse of the love he’d later find in the recovery community.

Time and time again, we see that miracles begin with a meal. Like Terry, when somebody finds a seat at our table, they’re met with so much more than a nourishing plate—they’re met with love.

My prayer is that, this December, UGM’s 78th annual Christmas Dinner will spark thousands of miracles. For many of the men, women, and children joining us, this will be their only holiday celebration. But for just $3.29, you can provide one of the 3,000 hot, hearty meals we’re expecting to serve. Will you give a gift today, to ensure we can help everyone who comes through UGM’s doors?

Merry Christmas,

William B. Mollard

Your $3.29 can change a life this Christmas