I’ve been in Grace House twice – I was 36 the first time I experienced homelessness, and 47 the second time. I became homeless after not taking care of myself mentally.
I knew that I was in a bad relationship; I was pretending everything was ok, and I lost myself. And as a result I started drinking again.
So I came back here and got back into a program, I sought psychiatric help, and I sought out programs that were going to build my resume and help me build my future career. Grace House gave me the resources to take computer courses, a photography course, a CPR course, and helped me build a resume. I stopped calling myself homeless when, after four months, I moved out of Grace House shelter and into Brunswick Home (a transitional living space). I’ve been here since last summer.
A lot of people think that people like me who have experienced homelessness are lazy, that we just want a free ride in life, that we’re just here milking the system and that we’re never going to get out of it. I’ve had full-time jobs, I’ve had my own business, I’ve made good money, I’ve had two cars – I’ve had “it.” And sometimes circumstances just happen.
One of my favourite hobbies is photography. I’ve been told that I see beauty in things that other people don’t see. It’s an outlet for me – I find it very meditative.
When I was little, there was a lot of chaos in my family. And my go-to spot was either my bedroom, or outside. So nature is my comfort zone, my Zen spot. I want to be right there when the sun comes up and it hits that blade of grass. And with nature photography, I can combine my two outlets.
When I was a kid, I always imagined that when I grew up, I would live in the country and be a lighthouse keeper. I like being outside in nature, and I also wanted to do nature photography. When I was a child I was always taking pictures.
And my future plan is to move out to the country, so I have to gear my career towards what is needed in the country. My dream is to go into the fishing camps. They have people coming in from all over for salmon fishing and I’d like to get into staying there and taking care of the grounds, and doing the cooking and cleaning in the summer time. And then I’m next to my river, I’ve got my flowing water, I’m in nature, and I can take pictures. Then I could combine my two things that I love to do, and get to make memories for somebody else.
We live in a richly diverse community, but we sometimes don’t see the unique and beautiful individuals and families who live in Fredericton South. Many members of our community are overlooked, some are invisible, and sometimes they are Othered. In the coming months, I want to introduce you to some of our neighbours. They are us. You’ll find our Profiles series on our website starting with the members of our LGBTQ community and continuing this month with homelessness.
Thanks to photographer and story-teller Kelly Baker: http://www.kellybakerphoto.com/