A Message from Al
The past winter was a rough one for my friends who live on the streets, leaving many wet and freezing through more nights than they could count. But as the first of the cherry blossoms finally bloomed, many of the street community breathed a collective sigh of relief. Warmer days are coming. We have hope.
On April 14, our street family and the Victoria community gathered in Centennial Square for an uplifting Good Friday service and a hot meal. It was a special time of encouragement. I’m only able to support my friends on the street because of help like yours, so please know that when you give, you make a difference!
Recently, a friend of mine passed away. She lived in a tent by the inner harbour where the wealthy dock their yachts. It’s always disheartening when a loved one leaves us. As we mourn together, though, I know that we still have hope.
It’s hope that keeps us all moving, and it’s knowing that seasons will come and go. Today, I am so grateful that it is spring! And I am grateful that so many of you have chosen hope, and chosen to support the Dandelion Society.
May your days be blessed and fruitful this season.
Reverend Al Tysick
Finding Hope in Community
Two years ago, Tyler was living on the streets of Victoria and feeling hopeless about his prospects. He’d spent years working as a cook in different restaurants around town, but he couldn’t imagine that his life was going anywhere that he could look forward to.
During his first week of living on the streets, Tyler spent his days downtown. When night would fall, he’d walk over to Topaz Park to get some sleep in the quiet. He roughed it for almost a full week before first visiting a shelter and beginning to connect with the street community and available resources.
Even without the struggle of addiction, life on the streets was cold, rough, and incredibly lonely. The idea that things could change for the better seemed impossible.
The morning that Tyler first met Reverend Al, he was in a dark place. “I was up all night that night, wandering around aimlessly and totally lost,” he says. “Someone told me that Reverend Al would be at Rock Bay Landing at 4:45am and so I went down to meet up with them, just to see what it was all about.”
From the moment Tyler met him, he was impressed.
“This guy had never seen me in his life before,” he says. “And he walks up with a big smile and says ‘good morning.’” After a sleepless night of constantly moving to stay warm, Tyler was beyond grateful when Reverend Al offered him a sleeping bag, along with the coffee. That morning, something changed in him.
“He just makes you feel important, like you do matter,” -Tyler
He began coming to Rock Bay Landing every morning after that. Having people he could count on in his life made a big difference, and he quickly became friends with the Dandelion Society staff. Instead of thinking about all of the things that were wrong in his life, he began considering the ways that he could make things better.
Today, Tyler has been volunteering with the Dandelion Society for a year! He’s seen Reverend Al give hundreds of his hearty, signature morning greetings, just like he experienced that first morning. “He just makes you feel important, like you do matter,” says Tyler.
As he wakes up at 3:00 every morning, he feels grateful for the community that he’s a part of, and for the friendships that are constantly growing out of the relationships he’s building. “They helped me out, and I just wanted to do my part and pay it forward a bit.”
Home doesn’t always mean a physical structure. Sometimes it simply means a sense of belonging.
Today, Tyler is living in a long-term transitional shelter with 14 other people. With the support of his household and his friends at the Dandelion Society, he knows that he can move forward, and is hopeful about the steps forward that he is considering.
“I’m looking to go to school to get into this line of work,” he says. “I’m hoping to do the one-year addictions counselling course at Camosun, so I can help my family on the street.”
It’s amazing to see how much hope is possible with a friendly smile, and what it can accomplish.
“If someone is having a really rough day, they know that they can call Reverend Al up and he’ll do everything he can to help,” says Tyler. “It’s an out when you have absolutely nothing left. It’s a chance for something.”
Our Year in Review
Over the past year, your generosity has brought comfort and hope to community members who are struggling. Thank you for your help! None of what the Dandelion Society accomplishes would be possible without your support. The wonderful impacts that we’ve shared below, along with all other services, are 100% donor funded.
“Everything we do is 100% donor funded.” —Reverend Al
- 800 pairs of socks per month ($400)
- 160 sleeping bags per month ($800)
- 4,500 cups of coffee per month ($150)
- 6,000 cookies per month ($1,200)
- 300 bus tickets per month ($750)
- 2 Dandelion Society vans: gas & maintenance ($650)
- 15 Greyhound tickets per month ($550)
- 10 gifts for people in the hospital, per month ($200)
- 2 jail visits per month ($40)
- 12 local doctor, recovery and probation appointments per month ($200)
There’s a common misconception that it’s much easier to live on the streets when it’s summer. The problem is, this simply isn’t true. Temperatures still drop at night and during the day, scorching temperatures can cause serious health risks such as dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke.
Giving typically decreases over the summer months, but many people need your continued support over the summer.
We also have a goal of raising $10,000 during the summer to help our friends who are struggling and purchase sleeping bags to provide as soon as the first cold hits. Sleeping bags save lives. Please don’t let the upcoming months become a forgotten summer.
Give to help our street community beat the heat! You can donate easily at hopeliveshere.ca/donate, and your gift will help provide supplies to keep the street community safe and healthy.