A Message from Reverend Al
I am so thankful to you for your generous support this past year. Your gifts and donations were especially appreciated this past Christmas, bringing hope and joy to my street family at a time that’s challenging for anyone struggling with homelessness.
On the steps of the legislature building this past Christmas Eve, we held our annual Vigil for people living on the streets. Our candles shone brightly in the darkness, symbolizing our ability to bring light and change into a world so often filled with injustice.
This year, I’m looking forward to embracing new opportunities and challenges. It’s important to remember that winter is not over. There are still many rainy days and cold nights ahead, and my street family continues to need your help.
Your support changes lives. When you give, you’re responding to the changing daily needs of individuals who are struggling to survive on our streets. As you read Simon’s story, I hope you know that everything we do is only possible thanks to you!
Thank you for your faithful support and generosity. Your gifts are gifts of hope shining brightly in the darkness.
Reverend Al Tysick
Finding Courage to Recover
It’s a dark winter night. Simon is huddled against a brick wall on Pandora Street and his entire body aches from the cold. He won’t find sleep tonight. Rubbing his arms and legs, Simon hopes friction might thaw the icy cold seeping into his bones.
Never in his life did Simon imagine he’d end up sleeping on the streets of Victoria. As a young man, he made the journey from his home in Ahousaht on Flores Island to Victoria in 1971. After graduating from Camosun College, he got a job as a nurse’s aide at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, working with war veterans and people suffering from dementia.
Each day, Simon did everything he could to make life better for those he served. But working closely with people suffering in the late stages of degenerative disease was challenging and started to take a toll on Simon.
He would get home exhausted. To deal with the stress, Simon began to drink after work. Little did he know, this was the beginning of what would become a decades-long addiction.
For years, Simon was able to maintain a balanced life, holding down a job and being a loving father to his son. But when things started to spiral out of control, he turned to the one man he knew could help. Reverend Al.
Reverend Al was a friend of Simon’s mother, who was a brilliant, good humoured and charitable woman. She’d asked Reverend Al to “take care of her boys” before she passed on. And he did just that.
Reverend Al helped Simon start the difficult road to recovery and find an affordable home. Simon shares that he’s waiting to be admitted into a treatment centre for addiction. Simon’s journey towards recovery requires constant care and support. Reverend Al knows this and works hard to be there for his friend Simon.
“One of the best things about Reverend Al is that he became my friend. He checks in on me quite regularly to see if there’s anything that he can help me with.”—Simon
With a glint in his eye and sincerity on his face, Simon shares, “One of the best things about Reverend Al is that he became my friend. He checks in on me quite regularly to see if there’s anything that he can help me with.”
Those close to him know Simon as a great storyteller. He has experienced more than his share of hardships yet, Simon uses his voice to share his experiences and inspire others.
Throughout it all, family has been at the centre of Simon’s life. His son is now grown, with a wife and son of his own. Like any loving father and grandfather, Simon is deeply devoted to his son and does everything in his power to be there for his 9-year-old grandson. Despite struggling with addiction, he deposits whatever money he can into an education account, specifically for his grandson.
Simon hopes recovery will help him to be strong and healthy, so that he can see his grandson graduate. Simon remembers his mother saying, “Some things take courage.” It certainly takes courage to seek the help to recover from addiction, and Simon has that in spades.
Story From the Street
Piercing, humid cold saturates the streets of Victoria, especially in the winter months. Amy is from BC and knows what it’s like to live on these streets. Thinking back on her experience, the first thing she remembers is shivering outside during the unbearably cold, wet nights.
Often, she’d wake to the drumming of rain, pelting down on her makeshift tarp in the middle of the night. Under her tarp, freezing rain would start to soak through her sleeping bag. Those were very long nights. On nights like these, Amy just hoped that her shoes would stay dry.
Wet, frigid nights are too common for members of our street community. That’s why your support makes such a big difference. When you provide warmth and community, it can be enough to get someone through the night with hope for a better day tomorrow.
Amy often camped out in Victoria’s parks. She could rest under her tarp until 7:00 a.m. That’s when the peace officer did his rounds and forced her to move on—but she had nowhere to go.
She remembers seeing Reverend Al and his crew on the streets, handing out coffee and cookies on early winter mornings. For Amy, those early morning visits helped her to keep going. After seeing Reverend Al, she knew she could make it through the rest of the day.
Every day, people are struggling to find shelter from the rain, trying to stay dry and warm. Wet shoes often lead to painful blisters and cracks in the skin. As you know, dry, warm clothing and shoes are vital for the health and wellbeing of our friends on the street.
Generous donors like you help our street community to stay warm and dry. Your gifts provide essential supplies to those who need it most, helping them survive rainy days and cold nights.
This year, we were thrilled to hear from Amy on our Facebook page. She’s been sober for 7 years! It’s incredible to find out that she went back to school and is now working with people who are struggling with addictions and homelessness in Ontario.
We are so grateful to our community of supporters. It’s gifts like yours that make a difference in the lives of people, like Amy, in need of warmth, community and most of all, hope.
Al’s Pals are regular, monthly contributors who allow us to make long-term plans at the Dandelion Society.
Spring into Giving This Easter
As we draw closer to Easter, please remember our street community in your prayers. Gifts from donors like you make a difference for people on our streets. When you give, you’re saying, “You matter and you belong!”
As you prepare to spend Easter in celebration with your family, please take a moment to think of my family on the streets and offer them your support.
Easter is a time to celebrate new life and renewal. Every gift that you give to the Dandelion Society helps our friends on the streets to believe that new life and renewal is possible. Thank you!