A Message from Reverend Al
Your gift to the Dandelion Society is received with so much gratitude. You’ve made such a difference for those experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental illness in this extraordinarily difficult time of COVID-19.
For the last several months, our goal has been to keep those we serve healthy, warm, dry and fed. We’ve been working hard to provide nutritious food, fresh clothing, protective tarps and tents and so much more.
We’ve laid out a robust plan for distributing the vaccine when it comes—and hopefully our work is well underway by the time you read these words.
The Dandelion Society is still transporting many people to the hospital every day due to general health emergencies, including infection and overdoses. Yesterday, I saved the life of a young woman just 24 years old who took a hit of heroin laced with fentanyl. I had to inject her with two vials of naloxone before she came back.
Your gifts made that life-saving intervention possible. Thank you for being a partner and a friend of the Dandelion Society. I’m so grateful you’re here.
Wishing your family health, happiness, and love.
Rev Al Tysick
Executive Director, Victoria Dandelion Society
Overcoming Overdose in Victoria
Reacting When Every Second Matters
“Come on Steven, don’t you do this…” Reverend Al shouted as he administered firm and steady CPR compressions to Steve’s unresponsive chest. “You’re not going to die on me!”
Only ten minutes earlier, Steven was fine. He’s a familiar face on Pandora Ave. In his late thirties, Steven usually has a beard, and walks quickly, slightly hunched over, with intense brown eyes and unkempt auburn-coloured hair that’s just long enough to tuck behind his ears.
Minutes ago—before the overdose—he’d been talking to Reverend Al and Dandelion Society outreach worker Derek about how he’d been asked to leave a local overnight shelter. Like so many others in Victoria’s street community, Steven lives with untreated mental health issues and addiction.
This combination of problems is challenging. He’s banned from nearly every agency in town because he acts out, shouting and kicking things when interactions with staff don’t go as planned.
That’s why the Dandelion Society’s work is so important. For people like Steven who have no other options, it’s a lifeline.
After pouring Steven a hot cup of coffee, Reverend Al asked if Steven wanted to take a nap in the back of the Dandelion Society van.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” declined Steven. “I‘m too worked up.”
Not fifteen minutes later, they were about to drive away, when Derek glanced back at Steven. He looked sedated, like he might fold in on himself, clutching a crumpled ball of tinfoil in his hand.
“Quick. Stop the van!” Derek said, as Steven started to fall over.
Reverend Al pulled over, and Derek dashed from the van. He could see Steven’s skin had a purplish hue, and his body was ragged and limp from the drugs coursing through his system.
He was overdosing.
Reverend Al hurried to Steven’s side, passed a couple naloxone kits to Derek, and started CPR. With practised hands, Derek administered the first dose of naloxone to Steven, yet Steven remained unresponsive. Derek injected a second dose, but despite the increased dosage, Steven still wasn’t waking. Derek tried again a third time, but nothing changed.
“Come on Steven, don’t you do this,” Reverend Al shouted, as he leaned over Steven’s body, pumping his heart. “You’re not going to die on me!”
Derek prepared a fourth naloxone dose—they weren’t going to give up on Steven now. He jabbed the needle into Steven’s muscle again, holding his breath as he depressed the plunger.
After a tense minute, Steven came back, coughing and sucking in ragged breaths.
A drug overdose like this one is often fatal, but thanks to YOU the Dandelion Society was there to save Steven’s life. You make such a difference every time you give—and sometimes your gift means the difference between life and death. Thank you for helping people like Steven when it matters most.
When the Snow Came Down
People Like You Stepped Up!
My name is Derek and I work with Reverend Al at the Dandelion Society. One of the best features of this organization is its ability to pivot and address crises when they arise. Earlier this year, that crisis was Victoria’s winter snowstorm.
Even in the best conditions, caring for vulnerable people takes a village. So when the snow started coming down this February, we needed our community to step up. And we were moved to see so many of you rise to the occasion! With your help, we partnered with the James Bay United Church to open a warming centre for Victoria’s street family in their time of need.
This year’s heavy snowfall created a host of problems for people without homes. Tents flooded and caved in, many people were freezing without suitable winter gear, and some individuals faced increased mobility issues because of the snow.
Al’s Pals are regular, monthly contributors who allow us to make long term plans at the Dandelion Society.
Your donations allowed the Dandelion Society to collaborate with local organizations and respond to the extreme weather conditions quickly. The congregation at James Bay United Church graciously offered up their beautiful space to provide temporary refuge to people trying to escape the cold. The local James Bay community was incredibly supportive with many church patrons dropping off food, water, socks and more for our street community.
By working in 12-hour shifts, we ensured the warming centre remained open to individuals without homes 24 hours a day. Tables were set up so people could sit and warm up with hot drinks or a bite to eat. We also provided sleeping bags, so people could stay warm and rest without worrying about the cold or their shelter collapsing on them.
Thank you for helping us provide people with much-needed relief from the cold during exceptional winter conditions. You gave vulnerable members of our community refuge, relaxation and comfort when it was needed most!
By becoming one of Al’s Pals, you are helping the root of the issue. We work directly on the streets of Victoria and are here to come alongside those who are struggling to get by on the streets. Help us get to the heart of poverty by becoming one of Al’s Pals today.
Victoria’s Street Community Needs You
To Beat the Heat This Summer
As the weather warms and the days grow longer, my street family is preparing for the hot days to come.
Life on the streets is a daily battle all year long. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also decreased the capacity of our city’s shelters, making it harder than ever to find relief from the heat.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can be particularly dangerous for those without a home. But items like hats, sunscreen, and water bottles can help our neighbours experiencing homelessness stay cool when temperatures rise.
If you can, please give to help someone struggling to survive this summer.