Message from Al
Month in, month out, your compassion is the beating heart of the Dandelion Society. I am thankful to you—beyond what words can say.
Caring for Victoria’s street community is a major undertaking, but you make it possible. Every day, as I navigate Victoria’s streets and check in with familiar faces to see how they’re doing, I’m reminded how fortunate I am to have your support.
Thank you for being the kind of person who sees the need in our community and says, “I’m going to do something to help.” Your generosity makes Victoria a better place.
Something I especially enjoy is showing you how your gifts are making a real difference for members of the street community. I hope you’ll enjoy this newsletter and find moments of inspiration and joy inside these pages.
Together, let us continue to bring kindness, love and dignity to people who need it the most in 2021.
I look forward to the coming year with you,
Reverend Al Tysick
You Are Not Alone
Silvia’s Journey From Depression To Hope
My greatest wish is that no one with a mental illness ever has to feel alone.
I say this because unfortunately, that was my experience… until I met Reverend Al.
My name is Silvia, and since childhood, my mind has felt like an unsafe place. I’ve suffered from severe depression, which means that I’ve had countless heavy days where simply getting out of bed feels like an impossible task.
Growing up, I was raised by two loving parents. We were a happy family despite our financial struggles.
My parents worked overtime at multiple jobs to keep our family afloat. I didn’t want to place more stress on them or to scare them. So for years, I held my depression inside.
At age 15, I started acting out by engaging in very risky behaviours—drinking and driving, doing drugs.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my actions were a cry for help.
On my eighteenth birthday, I decided to leave home even though my parents begged me not to. That night, I caught a bus from Calgary to Vancouver, where I hoped to start a new life and escape my reality.
When I arrived in Vancouver, I told myself, “I’ll stay in a shelter for a week, just until I can find a job.”
Unfortunately, that week turned into five years of homelessness. I didn’t leave Vancouver until I found myself in an abusive relationship, and desperately needed to escape.
I left in the middle of the night and caught a ferry to Victoria, where I live today.
“I can honestly say that Reverend Al saved my life”—Silvia.
That’s when Reverend Al and the Dandelion Society first came into my life.
Eight years ago, I crossed paths with Reverend Al, who quickly introduced himself and handed me a warm cup of coffee.
That morning, he sat with me for over an hour and listened to my story. In the afternoon as he drove me to the hospital he looked over at me and said, “I’ll be here for you when you need me. You are not alone.”
That day was the first time I received psychiatric care, and it was the first time I felt truly seen in my whole life.
That’s why, I can honestly say to you today that I believe Reverend Al saved my life.
In the years since then, I have been receiving regular care for my depression, and my heart is slowly filling with love for myself.
Five years ago, I found the strength to reconnect with my family—who have reminded me that I am worthy of love and happiness.
And today, I wake up knowing that I will continue on this journey of healing, taking life one step at a time. But it is so much easier to face my struggles, knowing that Reverend Al, the Dandelion Society, and my family are all rooting for me.
I am no longer alone.
Highlighting Our Helpful Volunteers
Ethan’s Mission to Make a Difference
Ethan Schovanek, a 22-year-old volunteer who has been working with the Dandelion Society for three years, knows first-hand how important our work is to Victoria’s street community.
“Each morning, we go through so many sleeping bags, coffee, tarps, and other supplies to help provide for these people who’ve slipped through the cracks of shelters and other organizations,” says Ethan. “The people we serve really don’t have much at all and they need help to find warmth and safety.”
We are so thankful for volunteers like Ethan who selflessly donate their time to show up, bright and early, for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. Without people like Ethan and donors like you, our work simply wouldn’t be possible.
A typical day of volunteering starts around 5 am. Before the sun rises, Ethan, Reverend Al and the other volunteers provide hot coffee and supportive conversation with people who have just spent the night on the street.
A large part of the role includes distributing basic supplies, like dry socks and warm jackets, to people who urgently need them. A fresh pair of socks is a luxury that we can take for granted. Some people haven’t had the chance to put on a fresh pair of socks for 3 or 4 days.
Ethan stays motivated by the energy the Dandelion Society never seems to run short on. “Working with Reverend Al is always incredibly inspiring,” shares Ethan. “He’s always so welcoming and happy. He has so much warmth and care for the people we help.”
Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers and our wonderful donors for working so hard to help Victoria’s street community overcome hardship with a friend by their side.
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!
Easter Is On Its Way!
Support My Street Family This Spring
The days are growing longer and before we know it, the cherry blossom trees will begin to bloom, signaling the start of spring.
My team and I are looking forward to the sense of renewal the Easter season brings. But my street family’s needs do not diminish during the warmer months.
Your support gives each and every member of my street family a reason to believe in a better and brighter tomorrow.
Please consider making a gift in honour of the Easter holiday, so everyone in our city can experience the hope of spring!
Winter isn’t over yet, give today to help keep people warm!