Just for a minute… imagine what your life would be like if you lost everything.
And, I mean, everything.
Your livelihood, your partner, your children. The place you called home. Your friends.
Now imagine if you lost everything not once but twice.
You made a mistake. You broke a law and that was the downward spiral that led you to prison and the loss of everything.
You have served your time and it gave you time to think. You might have vowed to change your ways, to make amends, to apologize and ask forgiveness when you get back home.
But you don’t have a home, a family, or friends to go back to.
What happens when you walk out to freedom and have no where to stay? No friends or family to pick you up and take you to their place to a warm bed, food, and support?
Having served your sentence and now being given freedom no longer sounds so appealing.
Where do you go? What do you do from here?
That … is… exactly what happened to me.
I had a great job making good money. I had a family. A wife and kids. We had a house we had made into a home. Anything and everything seemed possible but for one problem: me.
You see, I drank too much. At times it made me feel invincible and on top of the world. I didn’t think anything about getting behind the steering wheel while drunk. Unfortunately, that happened often.
Although, after sobering up I realized I shouldn’t have driven while intoxicated, it didn’t change my behaviour. I continued to drink and … I continued to drive after drinking.
My luck (if you can call it that) eventually ran out and I got caught … more than once. I was charged with several DUI charges and my punishment was jail time.
It was then that everything crashed.
I lost my job, my home, my friends, and my family.
My family. The family I was supposed to support and protect wanted nothing to do with me.
I was devastated. Any feelings of self-respect or self-worth I might once have had were gone. And, in jail I was constantly reminded that I deserved to feel like this. Like a nothing, a ‘has been,’ a loser, less than human. This of course helped lead to my rapid, downward spiral into the dark depths of depression.
Thoughts of suicide and the world being a better place without me crossed my mind - often.
There is little to no help in jail for those suffering with mental health issues. In fact, the jail experience often makes those issues worse.
I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go upon my release. My family still wanted nothing to do with me, my friends had all but disappeared – I had nowhere to stay. I had to start all over.
So many questions were swirling in my mind---How could I find a place to live without money? How could I find a job when I had a record? Would my children ever want to see me again? What would it take for me to win back their trust? Would I ever have friends again? Where could I turn for help?
The Bridge exists to help ex-offenders like me and their families.
With The Bridge's help, I am getting help with my mental health issues, am now gainfully employed, have my own place to live and am seeing my kids regularly.
They gave me another chance-Can you help people get a another chance?
Your donation can help greatly. Monies raised will be used to keep our doors open, fix some much needed repairs to the house and better programs for our clients. We are a registered charity and tax receipts will be issued. Volunteers are also needed. Visit our website www.hamilton-bridge.ca so you can see what we are and what we do.