My name is Ken. I come from a little town in northwest Alberta. I was born there and stayed till I was 11. I entered foster care and street life early. I’ve been in Alberta my whole life.
Growing up, everyone from the same walk of life as me faces that one moment where it’s like, you have a choice. You can do a bunch of really risky stuff and maybe things would be okay. But, you knew you’d always end up in jail. So no surprise I ended up in jail as a young offender. When I got out, I didn’t know anybody. So knowing who and where my mom was, it seemed like the best place to go.
I was 5 years sober when I found my mom in Calgary. She was doing crack at the time, so she was seeing johns to get extra money in her pocket, to feed her addiction. I fell into helping her out. I protected her as she went from john to john. That’s how we spent our time and how I started to explore the city. And, I started doing meth. Our best relationship at that time was me smoking meth and her smoking crack in an alley.
My life became this whole big monster of a mess. “Mess” became the code word for drama, for trust issues with my mother, the fights we’d have to get into just because someone didn’t want to pay her. It was a massive cyclone of addiction, use, crime and everything self-destructive.
I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t even know how to understand it.
One day, I was done with everything. I didn’t see any future. I stayed in my room for 7 days straight. I didn’t eat or drink any water. I used a bunch of drugs. My plan was to keep going until I dropped. The community officers watching me at that time suspected something was going on. They went to my mom’s place and forced their way into my room. They found me in the condition that if they didn’t get me help right that minute I’d be dead. They decided the best thing to do was to get me in touch with some organizations to help me.
That’s when I connected to Wood’s Homes.
Wood’s Homes gave me crisis counselling through their REACH program then connected me to other EXIT Youth Hub services to stabilize my situation. Thanks to you, I found Wood’s Homes. There are good people and programs here to help me and other youth like me. Wood’s Homes’ staff show-up not just because it’s a job or paycheque. They’re here because they want to help people like me have the potential and skills to get out there ourselves.
With me, it was a long process of eat one meal and skip out again but they NEVER GAVE UP on me. Wood’s Homes Counsellors helped me understand how I was looking at things and got me to look at things in a way to want to take the next step. Survival on the streets is skills-based. Your next meal, your next shelter. Skills don’t just come your way if you don’t work hard to earn them. Wood’s Homes helped me see how a life free from addiction, and a “normal” life, is skills-based too, and how it is possible for me to learn life and employment skills.
Because of you and Wood’s Homes, I am not alone when I have struggles along the way.
Wood’s Homes became the home I never had. The people, programs and place fed some of that void that meth used to fill and has helped me cope with my problems.
DONORS LIKE YOU and Wood’s Homes give me hope and strength as I work towards a better future each day. One free from addiction, with a regular job, and one day, maybe even my own place. Thank you for reading my story. I know it’s not pretty. But thanks to you, I am here today to share it with you, to let you know how you have helped me, and to pay it forward for you to help other youth like me.