Advent Stories: Peace

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

PEACE

We met Vanessa earlier this year when she started attending Innercity Arts. Vanessa is friendly, energetic and generous. It is easy to think that she has everything figured out. But as we got to know her, we realized she is wearing a thick mask in order to cope with the trauma she has gone through. Recently Vanessa shared what it was like the first time she came to art group, and her thoughts on Peace.

“I would just sit in my room for days. Doing nothing really. All my life – regardless of living situation I’ve just been… existing – going through the motions of life. I would self-isolate a lot. I felt depressed, and lonely. I felt exhausted, but restless at the same time. Eventually I would force myself to go for a walk.

When I would go outside this feeling would come over me – like a deafening silence, and my feet would feel unsteady  like the ground was coming out from under me. It was chaotic in my head all the time. Like I was screaming but no one knew.

One day when I was walking I ran into my friend Dexter. He said he was going to this art group and I should come too. I was…skeptical but I had nothing else to do. Then we walked into this building – I didn’t know what to expect.

But the first thing I felt when I walked in…was peace. The ground felt firm, the noise in my head was quiet.  I could tell right away it was a good place. I felt like I connected with people right away and everyone was kinda like me. We’d all been though stuff. When I come here, I don’t have to concentrate on every move – I can just go on auto pilot. I felt calm and I think it’s because of the people here at OIM. I don’t have anything to worry about here. I’ve found compassion, kindness and community.”

Vanessa still struggles with isolating herself. And she still goes on long walks to help cope. “When I walk, I don’t really pay attention to where I am going. But I usually end up at the OIM building, even when it’s closed. I feel drawn to it. And I think it’s because it’s so peaceful.”

Listen to Vanessa’s Story of Peace:

 

 

Advent Stories: Faith

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

 

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

FAITH

When I asked Bryon to share about his life he said: It’s been a nightmare; I have been through the meat grinder.

Bryon was born in Winnipeg; he comes from a family of 9.  Both of his parents were alcoholics, he grew up seeing a lot of violence in his family and receiving beatings from his father. Growing up with alcoholic parents was not easy. He doesn’t blame his parents for this, because he doesn’t know what happened to them, what pushed them to alcohol.

He’s been struggling with alcoholism over 50 years. He has had times of sobriety; the longest time was 2 years. Even thought he hasn’t managed to stay sober he says he will never give up because God has never let him fall into the cracks. He still struggle but he still has hope.

Bryon moved to Ottawa 2 and half years ago, he first connected with OIM at the Drop-In at Dominion Chalmers. “OIM helps a lot of people, people who are hurting and struggling with different things. They (OIM) have helped me immensely. They don’t just feed you they really help you. What keeps me going is knowing that I’m not alone and that I have support, people that cares for me and prays for me and that I have no doubt that God is there for me.”

Listen to Bryon’s Story:

 

 

Advent Stories: Hope

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, sharing stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

HOPE 

Mike connected with OIM 11 years ago. When we met Mike, he was homeless and in an addictions treatment program.

“I was dealt a very bad set of cards early on in my life. My childhood wasn’t happy. I started drinking heavily at the age of 16. I didn’t know joy back then. All I was doing was drinking.  At that age, I got myself into a lot of trouble and ended up in jail.

Before I knew it, years had gone by. And in that time, I lost my job, my family – everything.  

When I met OIM I was in a strange city, homeless and with a serious problem. I would get my monthly money and I would blow it in 4 hours. I was very hopeless back then.

 I came to OIM because I heard you could get food there but I got something more than food. I remember talking to Jelica at the Drop In and started to feel a bit different. I started to feel hope. I also came to the OIM office. There, the staff helped me get to my AA meetings.

I am 10 years and 8 month sober now. I don’t go to meetings anymore. Now, I come to OIM for my recovery. It reminds me of what I’ve overcome. One of my favorite words is the Bible is ‘steadfast.’ To me OIM is that – it’s like a rock in my life because they are always here. 

My life is getting better all the time because I have hope. When I got here 11 years ago that wasn’t always the story – I  was very hopeless. But then I found OIM and I ‘turned the corner’ as they say. Y’see, what you guys do is give me hope.

 When I came to Ottawa I was pretty sick, but I’m not sick today.  I don’t feel my age most days. I feel young again because my hope was restored. If you don’t restore your hope somehow it will take over the hopelessness. Now, it’s the other way around. Hope has taken over. Even though I’m still poor and I don’t have everything I need it doesn’t matter – those are the small things. I have faith that things are going to come along.

If you still have a little bit of faith left in society, in the world or in the good people, come to OIM and get it reinforced by 10.”

Listen to Mike’s Story: 

 

 

Larissa’s Journey: Thank You! (Part 2)

Larissa’s Journey is a blog series featuring one of the young people in the Innercity Arts program that began on November 26, 2018. We hope it offered insight and understanding into the lives of one of the young people in the program. Today’s blog post is a Special Message that comes directly from Larissa’s on-air presentation on Family Radio CHRI, 99.1 FM (airing 8 am and 5 pm). Thanks for listening!

Larissa’s-Journey

Hi, my name is Larissa.

It’s been great sharing my story on family radio CHRI.

Thanks for listening and following my story – it really helps me to know that there are people out there who really care about kids on the street. I am grateful that there are people who are willing to listen to my story.

If it wasn’t for the support and friendships I gained at OIM and the art group, I would not be in the place I am in today.  Thanks so much for your support. It really has made a difference in my life, and in the lives of many young people.

I hope you have a great Christmas and a great New Year too.

 

 

A Homeless Vet’s Journey: Week 1

For the audio introduction to A Homeless Vet’s Journey click play below:

Kurk had served several tours of duty in the armed forces, serving his country, and some time ago we learned that  he had also been a mercenary. He suffers from what happened in war, and suffers now from Post Tramautic Stress Disorder. When he needed help there was none – no counselling or support to help him recover. He carries this pain and his suffering.

You can easily tell when Kurk is at the drop in. His big booming voice announces that he has arrived – no doubt about that!

He had become more irritable in the past several weeks: he spoke loudly about the injustices of the ‘system’ and how people just were not treated right, and how he really should not ‘be here’ as the government owed him a significant amount of money.

One  drop in day, Kurk was so upset that he was yelling at someone who cut in front of him in line, and yelled that you can’t expect anything more from ‘these people’. It may have been the contents of the food hamper that day, or someone had actually cut in front of him in line, or maybe just that he really didn’t belong here with all these other people. Usually it doesn’t take too long for complaints about the government to arise: the government was withholding money from him that was rightfully his!  They had even ‘frozen’ his bank account!

His voice had risen beyond the level of disruption, and I watched as Jelica walked over to Kurk to calm him down. There was a brief interaction, and Kurk finally settled down. In the midst of their conversation, he said something like, “… AND I HAVE BRAIN CANCER AGAIN…”

I later spoke to him in the hallway, alone. He told me that he had been through two previous episodes of cancer, and this third recurrence caused him serious concern. His eyes welled up with tears and he cried when he told me that his cancer had returned. He continued to cry as I offered a prayer to God for help.

Note: Today there is help for those who return from war and suffer from PTSD. This has not always been available to our veterans and they suffer terribly. ADD to that the challenges of not having a place of your own, and it’s not too difficult to imagine that life will look pretty gloomy, to say the least.

Interact: How might you cope under similiar circumstances? Where would you go? Who would you talk to? How could you manage?

Ken MacLaren, Executive Director

(Kurk’s Journey is a 10-Part Series.  Stay tuned for Part 2)

 

Thank you from Danielle

Hi my name is Danielle.

I just want to say thanks for letting me tell my story here on family radio CHRI.  Telling my story and having people listen is really a great step.  I like that it can help people who really need it right now.

Maybe my story would touch your heart and help you decide to help someone close to you.

Sometimes the person you least expect could use your help.

When I think of OIM, I think of faith, unconditional friendship, support, resources, food and a  community of really good hearted Christians trying to do their best.

They made such a difference in my life, and the lives of so many youth in our City!

I hope you will be able to help them continue to do their good work, by making a donation of  any amount.

Every dollar counts, and your prayers and encouragements mean so much.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and blessed New Year!

Episode 8: Danielle’s Christmas Wish

Hi I’m Danielle.

My wish is that everyone has someone to be with this Christmas, and if not, that they feel God is with them, that His presence would comfort them and remind them that they are not alone.

I wish that everyone will have a place to stay, that no one has to spend Christmas out in the cold.

I hope and I pray that OIM continues to help those in need, and that God continues to reveal Himself to their community and bless them, to do his work through them with people who need it most.

I wish that no one will go hungry, that every child wakes up Christmas morning with joy and wonder in their hearts, and families everywhere would come together and really appreciate love and happiness. 

I wish for you who are listening, that whatever your situation is, that you have a wonderful, wonderful holiday and are surrounded by love, friends and family. God bless you.

Have a blessed and Merry Christmas! 

 

Please give consideration with your family to adding just one more person to your Christmas list and sponsoring one of the youth in our program for only $30 /month?

Click “Donate Now” and make a lasting difference in the life of someone who just never had a chance before, just like Danielle.

Danielle’s Story: Episode 7 – What’s happening now

 

“Danielle’s Story” is a series running throughout December.
To listen to the audio backgrounder from Family Radio CHRI, click the play button below. Follow along all month to hear this amazing story!

Jason baptized me in the Ottawa River. He used to drive me to church with his family. It was a turning point in my life.

I graduated from the art program, and entered Algonquin College for Animation.  I graduated last year.

Right now, I am getting closer to getting a studio job as an animator.  In another couple of weeks I’ll do another interview and then I will be able to complete my homelessness journey, and support myself without relying on others.

My art is more than creativity, it was my means to escape the horrors of abuse and homelessness. It kept me going. I  escaped the temptation of drugs, and turned to my stories when I needed to escape that world.  It was my home when I had none.

Homelessness taught me what happiness is all about. It is not about materialism. It is not about having money.

I was happiest, when I was with my friend and her mother.

I was happiest when I was at OIM, as a part of the art program, and their staff and volunteers offered so much – support, encouragement and acceptance.

This has made all the difference in my life. Life is about love.

 

Please give consideration with your family to adding just one more person to your Christmas list and sponsoring one of the youth in our program for only $30 /month?

Click “Donate Now” and make a lasting difference in the life of someone who just never had a chance before, just like Danielle.

Danielle’s Story: Episode 5 – I found OIM (or OIM found me)

“Danielle’s Story” is a series running throughout December.
To listen to the audio backgrounder from Family Radio CHRI, click the play button below. Follow along all month to hear this amazing story!

 

 

It was about this time I met up with an Ottawa Innercity Ministries street outreach team. It was rainy and cold and they gave me food and I was one of the first people at the art program that just started up. I was treated with respect, and it felt like I was stepping out of the community of drugs, violence and gangs. OIM gave me food, friendship and all the things I had ever longed for.
I began to volunteer with them, and soon started in the Work Skills program. I moved out of the shelter, and finally left the street community.
I found Christians like me, who knew forgiveness, love and patience, and who accepted me for who I am. This was a profound experience for me. It wasn’t too long after that I became a barista at a coffee shop and then enrolled at Algonquin college for animation.

 

Stay tuned to Family Radio CHRI as two episodes unfold each week following the 8 o’clock morning and 5 o’clock evening news. As you prepare for Christmas with your family remember there are kids who are all alone.

Why not let them know that they are NOT alone?

Please give consideration with your family to adding just one more person to your Christmas list and sponsoring one of the youth in our program for only $30 /month?

Click “Donate Now” and make a lasting difference in the life of someone who just never had a chance before, just like Danielle.

Danielle’s Story: Episode 4 – Back to Ottawa (again)

“Danielle’s Story” is a series running throughout December.
To listen to the audio backgrounder from Family Radio CHRI, click the play button below. Follow along all month to hear this amazing story!

When I was 17, my stepfather invited me back to Ottawa and I agreed, after he promised he would never hurt me again. When it was time for me to go back home, he got his fiancée to drive me instead to one of the shelters downtown. I had no money, no family or friends, and no experience on the street. It was in November, and it was cold.

I had no idea the homeless youth existed in the city and I couldn’t imagine it happening to me. But it did.

But there was a change in my life: suddenly I realized that I was in control. I could choose where I would live, and where I wanted to go. That first night I was filled with excitement. It was a cold November and I didn’t even have a winter coat- my step parents refused to give it to me. I only had a sweater. But I had my very own mug that was donated to me. And this mug represented my independence. 

It wasn’t long though before the harsh reality of youth homelessness hit me.

My living conditions were not all that great.  I met a woman who had just been raped, and there was still sperm on her leg. Not long after, I realized that she was a prostitute. I recognized that I needed to get out of there – and found myself at the Young Women’s Shelter. On that day, the street youth were mourning a girl who just been murdered.

At first, I felt safe, and I was excited about my new beginnings, but there was a frightening community surrounding me – drugs, violence and gangs. It was a normal way of life for street youth. Youth used drugs all the time: a girl who was pregnant said, “I don’t care if my kid is stupid;’ one girl bragged that she had 6 abortions, and another young girl got drunk to try to self abort her unborn twins. A boy was stabbed outside a drop in.

While I was at the shelter, two girls were kidnapped and taken to Quebec as sex slaves. I was almost attacked walking home by somebody who wanted to drag me off to his gang watching from a dark alley nearby. 

Stay tuned to Family Radio CHRI as two episodes unfold each week following the 8 o’clock morning and 5 o’clock evening news. As you prepare for Christmas with your family remember there are kids who are all alone.

Why not let them know that they are NOT alone?

Please give consideration with your family to adding just one more person to your Christmas list and sponsoring one of the youth in our program for only $30 /month?

Click “Donate Now” and make a lasting difference in the life of someone who just never had a chance before, just like Danielle.