The New Year is here and for most of us, this means a fresh slate. But for people on the street, it can be difficult to dream of better times ahead when every day is a battle for survival.

That’s why I appreciate you so much. Your gifts are beacons of hope, lighting the way to a brighter tomorrow. When you give, you remind our neighbours that they matter. A hot cup of coffee and a warm smile could get my street friends through another day.

And if we continue to work together, I know we can change the world.

“A hot cup of coffee and a warm smile could get my street friends through another day.”

In this report, you’ll read about a time when Barry needed help from a friend, and thanks to your support, I was able to sit with him through his time of need.

As we enter another new year, don’t forget that winter isn’t over. My street family is still struggling to make it through the winter and your support is vital to their survival. Every gift you give matters.

Thank you for your outstanding support!

Reverend Al's Signature
Reverend Al Tysick
Executive Director

A Glimpse into Life on Victoria’s Streets

I’d like to tell you about a time when Reverend Al made a difference in my life.

About five years ago, there was one particularly punishing December morning that I can’t forget. My name is Barry, I’m 62 and I was living with some pretty major addictions back then.

I think I hadn’t slept for three or four days. At 5:30 a.m. on this cold morning, rain was hitting the asphalt with driving force, and I was still awake. I was coming down, and my body was wracked with excruciating pain.

Every synapse was firing in tandem, screaming, and I was calling out in agony.

“Reverend Al and the Dandelion Society take care of people who are stepped over, rejected and ignored by society. His work is important and you’re important, too.” –Barry

Even though I felt like I was dying, and a friendly glance or someone asking if I was okay would have made a difference, everyone walking by stayed far away from me. But I don’t blame them…I’m sure they were afraid, too.

With my muscles contracting, tighter and tighter, I was paralyzed on the ground. There was nothing to do but moan in distress.

I can’t tell you how long I was in that rain drenched parking lot. But at some point, I noticed I wasn’t alone anymore. Someone was sitting in front of me, soaked through and patiently waiting.

That man was Reverend Al.

Flooded with thanks, emotion welled up in my chest. I was finally able to push myself into a sitting position and say, “Thanks for staying with me…you’re all I have.”

Nobody else stood by me that day; nobody else stopped to help. But Reverend Al saw me and sat with me until I was okay. Only Reverend Al would do that.

“Is there anywhere I can take you Barry?” Rev Al asked me, a look of genuine concern on his face.

“No, I’ve been barred from all the places in town,” I replied. It was true. In those days, I had nowhere to go and nobody who cared.

Rev Al pursed his lips and his whole face suddenly became very determined. “Well in that case, you can sleep in my van today,” he said.

I told him he’d already done so much—staying by me was a kindness I felt I couldn’t repay. But Rev Al let me lean on him for support. Together, we made it all the way to his van, and I climbed into the back seat.

After days and days of sleepless wandering through the city, I slept all day, stretched out in the back row of his van. But that’s the kinda guy Rev Al is. He’d give you the coat off his own back if you didn’t have one.

After waking up, he took me to A&W for dinner, and I still remember how grateful I was for a meal after going through hell.

Reverend Al and the Dandelion Society take care of people who are stepped over, rejected and ignored by society. His work is important and you’re important, too. Without support, I bet his work would be impossible. So thank you to Reverend Al, the Dandelion Society and all of you for making scenes like this possible.

Donate at www.hopeliveshere.ca/donate/ to help more people like Barry on Victoria’s streets.

A Passion for People

Niki Ottosen, founder of the Backpack Project, recently joined forces with the Dandelion Society to help Reverend Al support Victoria’s street family.

They met early one dark October morning. Their first priority is picking up large canisters of coffee at the Cool Aid Society, so they can offer hot coffees and warm smiles at various shelters, before making the journey to Pandora Avenue.

On the way, they cruise the streets slowly, scanning the sidewalks for people in distress. Many people anticipate Reverend Al’s presence like a light in the darkness.

“People expect him there and they get frantic when he’s not. Sometimes they’ve been waiting hours for a glass of water or coffee, but nothing’s open,” Niki says.

“We all know someone who is homeless, mentally ill or addicted. They are our family, our coworkers, or our friends.” –Niki

When they reach Pandora, they pull over and line up cups on the bumper, creating a makeshift coffee station right out of the van. People crowd around them as they pour coffee, cream, and sugar as fast as they can, trying to fill every outstretched hand with a warm beverage.

Reverend Al is a presence on the street. People rely on him to connect them with different services and organizations.

One fellow waited the whole night just for Reverend Al to take him to the hospital for an infected knee. No matter the time it takes, Reverend Al waits in the emergency room to ensure his friend sees a doctor.

“Reverend Al stays to see it through with them, so they get the care they need,” Niki says.

Tell friends and family about the Dandelion Society! And if you can’t lend your time, even the smallest gift can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

“We all know someone who is homeless, mentally ill or addicted. They are our family, our coworkers, or our friends,” Niki says. “And those who have more have a duty to help those who have less—and to love them where they’re at.”


When you become one of Al’s Pals, you join a community that is passionate about creating positive change in Victoria. You make it possible to help individuals struggling to survive on the street by addressing their daily needs as they arise. Help us overcome poverty in our city by joining Al’s Pals today!

Sponsor a morning run for $35 a month

Spring is on its way!

My street family is still struggling to survive brisk, rainy days.

But the crisp winter air will soon fade into the warmth of spring, and we’ll be commemorating Easter with friends and family before we know it! I hope you’ll join me in remembering Victoria’s street community.

This Easter, honour the season of hope by showing members of my street family that they matter, regardless of their circumstances. Your generosity gives each and every one of them a reason to hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.

Your kindness means the world to people who often feel downtrodden and unwelcome in our city. Please partner with us this Easter to share hope with everyone in our city!

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