A Message from Reverend Al
This summer, many of our incredible supporters stepped up to provide Victoria’s street community with relief from dangerously hot sunny days. Thanks to your outstanding generosity, people received water bottles, hats, sunscreen, and shade.
Every year, people busy themselves with the joy the warmer months bring, but many remain unaware of the hazards the summer heat can bring. Living on the street is a daily grind, regardless of the time of year.
Your generosity accomplishes small miracles that create unimaginable impact. Every day, you replace stolen clothing, give rides to doctor’s appointments, and even help move people into housing. Because of you, my street family always has a friend they can rely on when they need it most.
As we head into fall, our community now requires personal hygiene items and warmer clothing. From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank you for considering their needs. I appreciate your constant compassion and support.
Reverend Al Tysick
Turning Despair Into Determination
Eileen’s Story of Strength
On her daughter’s birthday, Eileen attempted to take her own life. Desperate to escape a lifetime of abuse, addiction, and dysfunction, she believed this was the only solution to her problems.
Eileen was born in Nanaimo into the Huu-ay-aht nation, but she didn’t grow up with her culture. Like many First Nations, residential school stole her identity and left her family in pieces. She remembers asking herself, “After all this, how do I continue to live?”
As an indigenous person who identifies as two spirited, Eileen is no stranger to stigma. This burden only got worse when she became an addict and an alcoholic. Eventually, Victoria’s city streets became her home. For years, Eileen tried to end the relentless cycle of recovery and relapse. Despite programs and counselling, she never found stability until rock bottom forced her to make a change.
“The fact that people care makes a huge impact on the community,they appreciate it so much.” -Eileen
Four and a half years later, she’s alive, clean, and in college. At 49 years old, Eileen is primed to graduate next year as an outreach worker from Camosun College. And she’s determined to give back to the people who are still on the streets.
The Indigenous Family Support program requires Eileen to complete a practicum, but her troubled past delayed her graduation and postponed her practicum applications. When other organizations were unavailable, she reached out to Reverend Al who, without a moment’s hesitation, offered her a position with the Victoria Dandelion Society.
So far, Eileen says she’s learned that this kind of work takes time, effort, energy, patience, and money. Seeing how quickly volunteers run out of basic necessities, she was struck by the incredible role that donors play in everything that Reverend Al does.
Eileen wishes she could express how much every donation means to someone on the street.
Today, Eileen wants to give back what donors, Reverend Al, and the Victoria Dandelion Society gave to her.
“I’m now in a position to return the coffee, cookies, and hugs,” she says, “Every day is a miracle.”
When she first returned to school, she had the simple goal of completing high school. Now, Eileen says, she’s received so much more than an education. She’s grown, regained her self-esteem, and looks forward to inviting her culture back into her life.
After she graduates, Eileen says she’ll go anywhere she can help others, but hopes to remain on the island she calls home. “There’s hope out there,” she says brightly, “And I want to contribute my piece to become a part of the solution in our community.”
Do you want to help Eileen address the heart of poverty in Victoria? Join Al’s Pals, a dedicated group of compassionate people who pledge a monthly donation to the Victoria Dandelion Society!
It’s our hope that the community will continue pulling together to meet the needs of people like Eileen. Your ongoing support provides warm and dry clothes and footwear, and speaks volumes of care to those who receive it.
Stories From The Street
Snippets of Support
This Thanksgiving, pause to appreciate how pivotal your help has been to someone on the street.
On a cold and rainy day, I met a young woman looking sad and deep in thought. She told me she only had one thing on her mind: making a phone call. I let her borrow my phone. She called her mother and joyously wished her a happy birthday. It was a moment filled with tears. They hadn’t spoken in two years!
You helped a mother and daughter reunite to share that happy day!
A Close Call
On a Tuesday morning, I saw a strange sight. A homeless woman around the age of 40 was crying in a parking lot all by herself. When I walked up I was shocked to notice that her hand was swollen, puffy, and red. It looked twice its normal size.
A spider had bitten her and she didn’t know what to do. I rushed her to the Royal Jubilee Hospital and she was admitted immediately.
After she received treatment, the doctor visited me in the waiting room. He told me that this woman was very lucky I found her when I did. If she hadn’t been taken to the hospital, she most likely would have lost her hand.
Your gifts allowed me to be there in a critical moment of need! Your gracious help allowed us to save this woman from a terrible and unexpected tragedy.
A young woman who had been on the street for a long time finally found housing. She didn’t have any furniture but made do eating and sleeping on the floor.
With your help, I found a bed, couch, a table, and chairs to fill up the empty rooms. Her bare apartment was transformed! Smiling ear to ear, she said “Please thank each and every person who helped make my new home possible!”
Warming Up For Winter
Victoria’s Street Family Needs You
As the seasons shift, I want to remind everyone that winters in Victoria endanger the lives of our homeless community every year. Staying warm and dry is an impossible task when you cannot shield yourself from the elements.
You’re needed now more than ever! Our city’s street family requires rain gear, blankets, sleeping bags and coats to survive the upcoming colder months.
This Thanksgiving, we’d like to express how grateful we are for your ongoing support. Would you be willing to give to help people battling the elements stay warm and dry this holiday season?