“They took my hand and they held it and never let me go” – Rocky
After years of brutal domestic abuse when he was child, Rocky fled from his hometown in British Columbia to Edmonton to start a new life.
He found himself homeless, lost, and scared. “I didn’t know anybody. The life on the streets was hard and scary”, he says. “You never know when someone is going to attack you.”
Rocky began to use drugs and alcohol as a way to wash away the painful memories of his family life and was in and out of jail for 15 years.
He was always hungry and went without food for long periods of time.
He saw many desperately hungry people on the streets resort to stealing just to get some food.
“It was pretty sad to not find a place to get a meal and I noticed a lot people would go to stores to steal food”, Rocky said.
He felt isolated and lonely, especially during the holiday seasons.
He dreamed of enjoying a hot meal and a safe place with family and friends.
Rocky eventually came to Bissell Centre and immediately felt safe and welcome in the Drop-in Centre. He had access to hot meals, clean clothes, bathrooms, showers, and help finding work and a home. He said, “I had no clothes, I had nothing, but here they give it to youâ€¦a lot of people don’t have access to that and Bissell provides all that.”
Getting a daily lunch at Bissell Centre was the start of his journey out of homelessness. The comfort he found in meals was also found in staff who treated him with dignity and respect.
It gave him the confidence to start on a new path. “It’s an honour to work with these people and I feel happy and good when I talk to them”, says Rocky, “Once that door opened, I kept going and the doors always kept opening. They took my hand and they held it and never let me go”.
He watched as other people who came for meals also ending up getting the help they needed. “I have seen people come here and find a home. Some of them do change”, he says.
Rocky’s family never got together during Easter.
Enjoying holiday meals with friends in the Drop-in Centre gives him the warmth he needs. “The meals are a treat for the people here and I enjoy them. I have been to a lot of places and I am always saying that I’m grateful to have a place like the Bissell Centre that helps people.”
He believes that if there were no meals served in the inner city, there would be more problems on the street and, “they will lose hope and it’s bad enough that they lost hope in their life”.
Today, Rocky is sober and stably housed. Even though he has a home, Rocky still comes to the Drop-in Centre every day for a hot meal and to be with friends. Rocky’s goal is to go back to school to become a counselor to help others find hope and a new life.
We will be serving 300 hot meals to people in need at our annual Easter feast, an undertaking that would not be possible without the support of many.
Please help us provide meals and care for people like Rocky this Easter.