Tag Archives: hope cottage

and that’s a rap

i made sure i was ten minutes early for the interview since everyone knows that punctuality on the initial impression is as vital as water is to a fish.  the building wasn’t marked well.  no signage, no nothing to indicate it was anything but a random building.

i knocked on the side door hoping it was the right one and heard footsteps.  a guy in line cook garb opened the door.

‘what can i do for you?’

i begin second-guessing my door choice.

‘is angela here?  i’m supposed to be meeting with her at..’

‘right in and down the stairs to your left.’

old halifax basements were never meant to accommodate men of my height.  pipes and beams made me duck and dodge my way through the basement to a series of offices hidden in an elaborate labyrinth.  part of me started thinking i’ve been duped and i’m going to be locked in a dungeon and sold into slavery.
‘you must be lucas’, said the woman with a soft handshake and a warm voice.

phew!  no slavery.

another woman greeted me as well, then both left the room to allow me to fill out a short essay question before doing the interview.  i thought i was done with essay questions.  bah! the question had to do with a clients mental and physical health and how i would approach the situation. it makes me think back to working at first united in east van and a few of the dirty situations i got into.

some memories are best forgotten.  ugh..

the interview went off without a hitch.  we ended up sharing stories about working with clients who deal with mental health, laughing at a bunch about different scenarios we had found ourselves in, and generally had a good time talking.  at the end of it, angela abruptly added, ‘we don’t usually hire on the spot but we think you’re perfect for mental health counselor position.  it’s yours if you want it.’

isn’t that what we all want to hear at the end of a job interview?  are there any better words?

i can’t think of any.

i thanked the ladies for their time, shook hands again and treated myself to some tim hortons.  donuts always make great celebration food.

after eating my celebratory food, i made my way down to gottingen to visit grace street ministries.  the place was packed and lively as i pushed my way through the front door.  jovial music was playing from the laptop, people were eating lunch and talking, tasha circled around the room with her mop hunting for wet spots, and patty waving her hands around trying to get my attention.

‘i’m SO close to getting my 9 months!  please pray i make it, lucas!’

i’ve seen a lot of patty’s ups and downs over the past two and half years.  addictions rob life of what it is supposed to be.  patty is no exception to this rule.  but, after almost 9 months (her longest period of sobriety) i think she may have found the strength to move past it.

‘you know i’m always praying for you,’ i reassure her.

she smiles a big smile and sits back down on the leather couch.

a fight breaks out outside the front door as we are in the middle of a group discussion.  people are anxious and agitated.  some run outside to see what’s happening, adding to the spectacle.  two drug dealers using fists to settle their disagreement.  not the most creative way of problem solving.

cop cars pull up minutes later and the crowds disperse quickly, because they either don’t want to answer questions (and be labeled a rat) or because no one likes the cops around here. i don’t blame them.  the cops here might be even more corrupt here than back in vancouver.

that’s saying something.

group gets refocused and continues on.  my mind is still dwelling on the fight.  the guy that was attacked was ‘dinky’ (not sure his real name).  he used to come to grace street back in the summer when i was leading group there.  a polite guy around my age with a big heart but mixed up in the wrong lifestyle.  in a violent halifax subculture in the hood, he could be the next guy to make the 6 o’clock news shot or stabbed to death.

i pray that doesn’t come to pass, but i realize i don’t have much say in it.

after grace street i head down to hope cottage to have a meal with some friends.  rock, patty, richard and goula entertain me while i eat a delicious plate of shepherds pie.  the fishing boat that capsized off the coast was from richard’s small home town.  the fishermen who were lost at sea were friends of his.  we give our condolences and say a quick prayer for the families and community left behind.  the silence that follows visibly makes people at the table awkward.

death has a way of doing that.

as kat and i are walking back from hope, a car that doesn’t see us almost runs us over on the cross walk.  we’re able to move out of the way in time and i give the car a boot with my right foot to show my displeasure.  you read that right.

i booted it good, too!

he doesn’t even stop.  this has to be the 6th or 7th time this year that has happened.  halifax drivers are atrocious.

now i sit here in my favorite chair with my laptop on my knees, feeling angry, sad, encouraged, disappointed, excited – i’m a bit wound up and all over the place emotionally.

just another day in the life of luke.

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the big OK

the ‘hope’ in hope cottage is fitting.

the area surrounding hope cottage houses a lot of people who live under the poverty line.  there are two men’s homeless shelters about 5 minute walk away.  theres a womens shelter four doors down and another one 10 minutes away.  several small and large public housing buildings dot the urban landscape.  the public row housing and duplex units are all around the cottage.

we have a policy that we only serve meals to adults.  any kids younger than 19 cant eat at the cottage.  when i asked eddie what that was, i was told it was to protect them.  there are known convicted child molesters living in the area who come to the cottage for food.  kids can get sandwiches to go but they cant stay and eat.  i understand why but its still something thats hard for me to swallow.  why should convicted child molesters get precedence over the kids in the community?  i guess if you dont know all the possible offenders then its better to air on the side of caution.
understood.

a lot of addicts come for breakfast and dinner daily.  alcohol, crack, opiates – most people fall into one or a couple of these addictions.  escaping reality and filling the addiction become the invisible shackles and chains.

invisible slavery.

im not using that word as a hyperbole either.  i mean literal slavery defined as ‘the condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.’

it kills me to see what some people will do to themselves and others to fill their addictions and appease their slave owners (drugs).  im sure you are no different.  most of us have had to deal with a friend or family member who had a destructive addiction.  theres a certain helplessness that comes from seeing them destroy themselves..

after talking with some other community stake holders, i came up with an idea.  its nothing original or mind-boggling but i think its some thing desperately needed in this community.  the idea is a grass-roots recovery program for addicts.  redeemed and recovered addicts helping current addicts gain the freedom they need to live their lives more abundantly and productively.

eddie, one of the main guys at hope cottage, is a recovered addict after spending a considerable amount of his life battling substance abuse.  after failed attempts at sobriety eddie explained to me that God came to his rescue.  the physical solutions couldnt fix what was a spiritual problem.

the same thing happened with my uncle, peter.  addictions, too, had plagued him and caused him to spiral out of control and make life decisions that were destructive.  God showed up to him in a powerful way and delivered him from his slavery to substance abuse as well.

both these men call the north end of halifax home and they both have a huge heart for the addicts in their community.

the director of the cottage just gave us the big OK to start a recovery group in the new year.  with the leading of God and behind the incredible testimonies of redemption from eddie and peter, i think this is going to be a powerful opportunity to see restorative justice done in our city.

all prayers and well wishes welcomed 🙂

thumbs-up

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hope

‘do you like chocolate?’

what a silly question.

‘of course i like chocolate.  who doesnt?’

with that the bearded man with coffee-stained teeth and a hearty laugh forced a newspaper clipping into my right hand.

‘theres all the chocolate you could ever want and more!’

he was right.  the image of a newly constructed chocolate train held a caption underneath it stating that its weight was calculated at just over a ton.  a ton of chocolate!  my dentist would smack me upside the head good if he just saw the way i was oogling that train.

mm, chocolate transportation.

my fellow chocolate lover took back his newspaper clipping and resumed his place in line, muttering to himself about trains and chocolate.  hes one of the many people ive had the opportunity to meet in my short tenure at hope cottage, a soup kitchen in the north end of halifax.  two weeks ago i decided that doing construction work was far too hard on my body (knees and back didnt like it) and i had little time to hang out with my friends on the street.

‘what are you?  a wrestler?’

i cant say anyone has ever asked me that question before.  the small, old man who asked me probably thought everyone looked like giant wrestlers.  i told him i wasnt a wrestler but his squinted eyes and doubting stare told me didnt believe me.  maybe its better if people think im a wrestler since the soup kitchens location is smack dab in the middle of one of the more dangerous areas of the city, if not the most.

hope cottage looks like just your average house from the street.  it was opened 42 years ago by a local church pastor to help struggling low-income families and homeless men with meals during the week.  what probably started as a temporary fix has become a fixture for the city that has seen its poor and homeless population grow larger over the years.  several different churches and groups help supply food to help with costs and hundreds of volunteers help serve the meals.

its an incredible organization to be a part of.  im blessed.

laurie came in for dinner tonight.  the first thing i saw was her big smile.

‘i didnt know you were working here!’ she said followed by a big hug.

laurie tells me she got her old job back (!!) and has been working for the past three weeks.  now she is able to see her kids on the weekends!

its not everyday i get to hear success stories which just makes this one that much better.

congrats, laurie, and thanks hope cottage for having me aboard.

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