SCATEH Spring Forum 2016
Back-story & Community Connection
Most of you here today are likely unaware of my back-story, or my connection to the people in our community that rely on our social services. So, about 4 years ago I fell into the system when my world came to an abrupt halt; the eventual outcome of decades of untreated PTSD which lead me to make numerous ill-fated life choices, ultimately resulting in my sudden displacement from mainstream society.
It took me about 4 months to figure out the 'W5 of how to survive', and to get settled-in to a basic structured routine, and some feeling of stability. Once I found the Busby Centre though, I found my home-base with access to resources and support, and the launch point to begin on my road to recovery.
Within the first year of my 'lived experience' in our social service system though, I was deeply compelled to get involved in my community- specifically within the downtown core; primarily to speak for those that can't or won't speak for themselves, but also in the hopes of bringing about some positive social change.
I’d already seen, heard, and gone through enough in the first 6 months to know that there were some serious social & systemic issues that needed attention. Having immersed myself into the downtown community, I knew first-hand how these issues were directly affecting the very people in which we’re all trying to help.
I hadn’t written in 20 years, but it was then that I became inspired to write again, and to write about my observations. I wrote several articles dealing with our most common social & economic issues; and used my Facebook community page to help raise awareness and support for my advocacy work.
From thereon out I was inspired by my accomplishment, and empowered by the positive reception and support of city residents, community partners, and the downtown community itself; And I have been riding that wave ever since, building on each successive accomplishment, and gradually getting more involved with our local community groups & organizations, and within the lives of downtown residents.
Over this time I’ve been actively volunteering and advocating wherever & whenever I was called upon to do so; both officially, and unofficially. And during this period, while living at street level, I've met 1,000's of people, listened to 100's of life stories, made some invaluable connections with key community partners, and even made a few friends along the way.
Ultimately, since I have lived the typical middle class life, and fallen heavily into our social service system too, I understand both sides of the societal coin; and this gives me a unique perspective on our socioeconomic issues that allows me to consider, and act, in the best interests of those concerned.
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