A Message from Reverend Al
I want to say ‘Thank You’ to each and every one of you. With your help, Easter was a time filled with hope for the street community.
Donors like you are instrumental to the work Victoria Dandelion Society does each and every day.
With summer on the horizon, cold weather emergencies will soon be a distant memory. But as you know, surviving on the street is never easy. Please remember my street family this summer.
Thanks to your compassion, I’m not disheartened by the knowledge that there are so many people who desperately need help. I’ve learned to look at the individual before me because I can only give myself to one person at a time. And by reaching out unwaveringly to each person, you and I can help many.
Thank you for your faithful support. Together, we can offer love, hope and belonging to the street community.
Reverend Al Tysick
My parents used to say you live by the sword you die by the sword. In the last two years, I’ve overdosed 22 times. When that happens, I go somewhere black, but it keeps getting less black each time I return.
On the street when you overdose, paramedics hook you up to a breathing tube and give you a Naloxone shot. The last time I overdosed, they said I was dead. But I came back. I’m terrified I won’t come back next time. My name is Thomas, and I don’t want to die.
I didn’t get the greatest start in life. This might shock you, but my biological mother locked my sisters and I in a bathroom for two weeks, so she could go out binge drinking. I was only four years old at the time. Someone must have reported our crying because social services came and took us away from that prison.
My adoptive parents are the best people I know. They rescued me from spending my childhood bouncing around in the foster system.
I started working early, eventually moving from Vancouver to Calgary and back for work. During this time, I was struggling with alcohol addiction. It took years, but I was able to get clean and live with my parents, helping them around the house.
When you’re an addict, there’s no such thing as just one drink. Within three years, my addiction caught up with me.
“What Al does is important. If he weren’t doing what he does, the city would be lonelier and darker. He does it because it’s his calling and passion. He’s not in it for the accolades. He’s truly sincere, and I admire that.”—Thomas
I didn’t want to put my parents through the pain of seeing me as an addict. So, I left to live on the street. Eventually, I made my way to Victoria, where I’ve been for the last eight years.
Living on Victoria’s streets isn’t easy. When you’re homeless it’s a fight just finding a place to sleep, finding something to eat, somewhere to shower. When you sleep, people steal everything you own.
Just today I fell asleep for a couple minutes and someone stole my backpack. Luckily, I saw Al this morning at the Market on Yates. He’s given me a new sleeping bag, and he’s going to help find new clothes to replace what was stolen today.
When I see Reverend Al doing his morning runs, I feel hopeful. What Al does is important. If he weren’t doing what he does, the city would be lonelier and darker. He does it because it’s his calling and passion. He’s not in it for the accolades. He’s truly sincere.
Reverend Al and the Dandelion Society are worth supporting. You can depend on Al to be there for you. One day, I’m going to give back to Al and the Dandelion Society, and so should you. Everyone’s got something to give, and everyone’s got a story.
Your Gifts at Work
Donors like you allow the Dandelion Society to see the beauty, hope and potential in every person on Victoria’s streets. Early each morning, before dawn has broken, your gifts enable Reverend Al and the Dandelion Society to prepare coffee and baked goods for the street community.
You might know that Reverend Al starts his day at 3:00 AM, so he can hit the pavement as the street community is waking up and before the police arrive to wake them. Thanks to your gifts, people like Charles are greeted bright and early with a message of encouragement and hope.
Charles has been homeless in Victoria for the last eight months. He’s hoping to get help to find affordable housing soon, but it’s been especially challenging since he struggles with mental health.
Trying to find somewhere to sleep that’s dry and shielded from the wind is a daily struggle. Charles has a few places where he seeks refuge, but none of them guarantee safety. On chilly nights, he finds it impossible to stay warm.
“Even though I’ve gotten used to seeing Reverend Al, handing out coffee in the morning, I’m still blown away by how much he and the Dandelion Society cares.”—Charles
When Charles sees Reverend Al and Dandelion Society volunteers handing out coffee and cookies, he’s always comforted, knowing someone cares for him. As many of you would agree, there’s no better way to start your day than with a rich, aromatic coffee and a fresh baked good to go with it. But Charles appreciates Reverend Al’s company even more.
“Even though I’ve gotten used to seeing Reverend Al, handing out coffee in the morning,” says Charles, “I’m still blown away by how much he and the Dandelion Society cares.”
Charles has been in dire straights before. A few months ago, he was assaulted on the street. Reverend Al took him to the hospital and returned to check up on him during his stay. Your generosity makes a big impact for people just like Charles.
Your incredible support allows the Dandelion Society to be present with the weak, vulnerable, sick and homeless. Your amazing generosity makes it possible to welcome everyone on the street, just as they are, without judgment.
Everyone deserves to be treated with love, kindness and respect. That’s why the Dandelion Society is dedicated to coming alongside people experiencing homelessness and meeting them where they are.
Most of us like to start our day with a hot coffee or tea. People experiencing homelessness are no different. Giving someone in need a morning coffee and cookie is the first step to developing relationships of trust.
Thank you for your continued support. Without you, our presence on the street, helping people each day as needs arise, wouldn’t be possible. Your gifts are received with the utmost gratitude and thanks.
Spring/Summer in the City
With the approach of summer, it’s easy to think people living on Victoria’s streets have fewer dangers to face. Sadly, this isn’t true.
Living on the street is never a walk in the park. Hot summer days transition into windy, cool, and often wet summer nights. For the street community, surviving on the street is a constant struggle.
Sunburn and sunstroke can be life-threatening medical emergencies. Dehydration is another serious health risk during the scorching heat of summer.
This summer, please remember to give to help people who are struggling to survive on Victoria’s streets. Your compassion could help save someone’s life this summer.