I ended up at Grace House on my birthday last year. I was devastated when I got there. I thought, “oh great, what a birthday present this is.” And then I met people who lifted me up. You can rise above your circumstances, and with the help of Grace House a nd other organizations in the community, I did.
People don’t realize that most people are a paycheque away from being homeless – if they lost their job, or had an accident. I was in telecommunications for 10 years and had a good career but I fell into alcohol and addiction and I made a lot of wrong choices. People think we’re lazy, that we’re not worth anything. But people like us have worth. We are all the same inside. Look into someone’s eyes – their eyes are the same as your eyes.
I transitioned from the Grace House shelter into Brunswick Home (a transitional living space) on August 24. For four people who didn’t know each other from a hole in the ground, we get along famously here. I really think that we are a good representation of how a bunch of homeless people can get together and live independently, run a house, and take care of things. It’s what a family is supposed to be about.
Guitar, for me, has always been for me. I don’t play in front of people; guitar is mine. When I was a kid and things were going bad, I could always turn to my guitar. My guitar was my best friend. My guitar never let me down; my guitar was always a good distraction. It was always a healthy distraction – learning new songs, and learning a new riff, that was always so rewarding for me. I’ve played since I was 13, 14 years old. And I love it. And that’s my hobby.
My plan next is to discover who I am again, because I lost my identity somewhere along the way, and now I’m just realizing that I don’t have to be the label that society gave me, I don’t even have to be the label that my psychiatrist gave me. I can create a whole new label for myself. Now I’m really looking at the rest of my life, because I’m in mid-life, I’m 44. And I’m at a point where I’m at a crossroads and I want to have a good second half of my life. It’s about how you finish, it’s not about how you start. And I’m really holding onto that. This is the dash to the end. It’s the race, and I’m gonna finish, and I’m gonna finish well.
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/