Celebrate Easter’s Promise of Renewal & Rebirth
The Easter season symbolizes renewal and rebirth. For many of us, this is a beautiful and hope-filled time of year, when nature stirs from its months-long slumber and we begin to hear sounds of spring.
I want to tell you the story of Tyler, whose life embodies the very definition of “rebirth” and demonstrates Good Shepherd’s unrelenting Faith in People. It’s a tale that played out on our city’s streets and throughout an array of Good Shepherd’s programs time and time again.
Tyler’s journey began when he was 18 years old, after being told to leave his family home due to his rebellious behaviour. Violence and substance use followed him into a youth shelter.
“I was a lost, purposeless teen. I wanted to be heard and I found attention through aggression. Everything was everyone else’s fault. I kept burning bridges and I lost my friends and family. I ended up sleeping on a park bench.”
Tyler found safety at Good Shepherd’s Notre Dame House, our community’s only shelter for youth. Like all young people who come to us for support, Tyler was introduced to programs and our co-workers, who helped guide him through the many challenges in his personal life, including his addictions and the dangers he encountered on the street. He received life skills training, safety planning, hot meals, a warm bed, access to showers, clothing and primary health care.
Tyler’s demons persisted and he fell into a gang lifestyle. A vicious fight resulted in injuries that put him into a coma for seven days. The brain injury increased Tyler’s violent tendencies and substance use.
He floated through the shelter system in Hamilton and ended up at The Good Shepherd Centre, our adult men’s shelter. But we saw Tyler’s goodness and potential. He was a young person who wanted badly to become a contributing member of our community. And he realized he needed Good Shepherd to help turn his life around.
“I was still using drugs and I started to reflect on my life. I thought, I’m going to die. I need to take steps
to get out. I’ve had enough. I’m done with this life.”
He sought help from his addiction counsellor at Notre Dame House. She helped him enrol in a drug treatment program and provided him with the support he needed. He knew we were a vital path to the life he so desperately sought. It was a long, bumpy road for Tyler, including multiple stays at drug rehabilitation centres. His life took a positive turn when he realized that he first needed to complete his education before he could move on.
“I told the workers at Notre Dame that I wanted to go back to school. I wanted something in my life and that’s how I could get it. Good Shepherd helped me see my potential.”
It took a year of commitment to his studies and in 2016 he earned his high school diploma from Notre Dame House School, an alternative classroom setting for street-involved youth.
Soon after graduating, he took an apartment at Good Shepherd’s Emmaus Place supportive housing, where he learned more life skills and the responsibilities of independent living. He lives there to this day.
Now, Tyler proudly wears a Mohawk College sweater as a testament to his ongoing success. He is in his second year of the college’s Social Service Worker program. And he’s back at The Good Shepherd Centre men’s shelter ... but this time he is working there for his college placement. He still can’t believe where life has taken him.
“I still wonder when I’m going to wake up from this dream. This once homeless junkie has gotten into college!”
Tyler has been off drugs and alcohol for more than three years. In addition to his student placement, he is working at Notre Dame House with an eye toward attaining a university degree.
“At Notre Dame I’m able to support the youth by sharing my experience. That’s my purpose in life.”
This Easter, I invite you to support us by donating today. Your generosity allows us to continue programs that help them establish a path to a New Life.
Please consider a gift to help us restore hope and dignity to those we are privileged to serve every day.
Thank you for your support of Good Shepherd. Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!
Brother Richard MacPhee, OH