The Hope Centre has proudly serves the citizens of Welland and the Niagara community for over 39 years who deal with the daily issues of hunger, poverty and homelessness. By attending to the basic needs of vulnerable citizens, this year’s recipient is committed to building and strengthening the lives of the citizens in our communities.
Below are real stories from people within the community about their journeys and how The Hope Centre has helped them.
My name is John Scapillato I will be 49 years old in October of this year. I have 2 sons Dalton who is 23 years old and Harlie who is 19 years old. I was separated from their mother when they were only 8 and 4 years of age. I was DEVESTATED. My life had turned completely around. At that time I turned to drugs and alcohol. I became an addict. I am in fact an ex-crack head and needle junkie! As a direct result I ended up in the psych ward on 3 different occasions. My mental health suffered greatly. However, I was finally properly diagnosed and medicated. I also spent 18 days in Newport Centre.
In July of 2013 I got into some trouble with the law and ended up in jail for a month and put on 2 years probation. Upon my release from jail I moved in with my mother. A few weeks later my mother had a breakdown and I ended up at The Hope House on Division St. which was a homeless shelter. This was my second time being homeless. This was when I was first introduced to The Hope Centre. Our meals were provided by The Hope Centre. Breakfast and lunch were there and dinner was at The Hope House. The Hope House monitored my medication and had a curfew. This gave me “structure.” I am also a musician and have been playing guitar for more than 30 years. My music was welcome by the staff and residents. I played on a daily basis. I established housing in October of 2013. Every single day I had lunch at The Hope Centre. The staff and volunteers were very kind and positive. The Hope Centre also had and still has a food bank program that I still use to this day. I participated as a volunteer at the food bank for a few months. Any clerical issues that I needed such as legal documents were provided by The Hope Centre. The Hope Centre also hosted an “ID Clinic” and I was able to replace my Social Insurance Number and Birth Certificate at no cost. I got to know the staff on a much more personal level and I must say, they are truly professional. I have no idea what I would have done without the professional assistance of The Hope Centre. I became a member of The Oak Centre on March 18, 2015. I met a wonderful woman and I am now in a wonderful healthy relationship. Louise and I came to The Hope Centre for assistance on our hydro bill. Again the professional staff at The Hope Centre assisted us no problem. I am living proof that there is “hope.” I have travelled on a very long road to get where I am today. I see a counselor every month and practice the 12 steps of AA. The Hope Centre played a very important role in my recovery. I would highly recommend the services that The Hope Centre has to offer.
Alfred Henry Mathias
My name is Alfred Henry Mathias and I am truly grateful for the support and the success that the Hope Centre has provided me over the past 20 years. By giving us just one meal a day at the lunches, it lets not only me but everyone else know that there is someone who is always there and who cares. That is just the beginning of what the Hope Centre has done for my life. The staff and the volunteers always have a way of making you feel special. Being part of the trusteeship program has made sure that my rent gets paid so that I always have a roof over my head. With the help of the trusteeship program I have saved up a significant amount of money for the first time.
Having a community coach throughout my time with the Hope Centre has helped me reflect and grow through the many obstacles that I have faced throughout my life. Each and every coach that I have had was wonderful in their own way. It took me time to get used to each new coach but once I did I really appreciated how each one normalized my life. I look forward to the time that I spend with my coach every week.
I have done so well having a community coach that I now think of my problems in advance of the meeting and sometimes I even solve them ahead of time . My coach has helped me: start a relationship with my grandchildren, get my passport, get tenants insurance, purchase a television, and most importantly she has helped me find the confidence with her guidance to know that I am capable to make it through any struggle or obstacle.
The best gift that I keep receiving from The Hope Centre is endless encouragement and the HOPE to look towards the future.
The Hope Centre is fantastic! It has been a life saver for me. My wife died last March 13th and I have been having difficulty ever since. After she died I was “stupid thinking” I was down in the Falls in a hotel room (I had lost my home at this point) and took a bunch of pills to commit suicide. I was fortunate to have someone who found me and I was sent to Welland Hospital where a psychiatric nurse was really helpful and worked on having me transferred to St. Catharines. I still had a bottle of pills with me which i considered taking, however, handed over the pills once I was settled in. I spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and then was referred to The Hope Centre to their transitional housing program. I was able to take a tour of the building, meet the staff as well as some of the residents and moved in fairly quickly.
The same week I moved in I was able to meet with a counsellor, participate in a group meeting, sign up for some courses they are providing as well as offer my time as a volunteer! They also provided food the day I moved in to ensure I wouldn’t go hungry. I reside with a great group of guys, and everything is working out great!
I Found Hope And Recovery
For most people volunteering is an enjoyable and rewarding activity. For Terry, it’s reminiscent of the fluidity between life and death. It was volunteering at The Hope Centre that helped Terry on his journey to recovery and health. In 2006 Terry was rushed to the hospital with extreme bleeding. During a procedure to find the cause of the bleeding Terry’s heart stopped, starving his brain and body of oxygen for 12 minutes. He was airlifted to St. Michael’s in Toronto for specialized treatment. When he awoke from a coma two weeks later, Terry’s life was dramatically altered. Not only was his body reluctant to tackle everyday tasks that most of us take for granted like tying our shoes or holding a pencil, Terry had experienced death, and remembered it. Struggling to put his experience into words, Terry remembers being with his father, who had died several years earlier. “It’s like when you hug someone and you close your eyes… that feeling you get,” says Terry. That feeling of comfort was the closest Terry can come to explaining how it felt to be with his father. y faithfully wears a cross around his neck, a cross he feels is part of the reason why he survived his heart stopping for 12 minutes. He comments that the experience with his father didn’t change his view of the world or his philosophies on life, it simply highlighted how grateful he is to have life. His appreciation for all that he has is also why The Hope Centre is so important to him now. As part of his recovery plan, medical professionals recommended voluntering, as a way to reconnect socially with the broader community, rebuild his fine motor skills and regain his confidence. “I wanted to be working,” says Terry, adding he needed to “ease back into life.” Terry chose The Hope Centre for his first volunteer experience.
At first, his time at the centre was like occupational therapy. Terry remembers how simple tasks like reducing portion sizes of cereal helped redefine his fine motor skills. “I was just happy to be here, doing something,” he says. In time, he got his licence back, regained skills he had lost because of his illness, and grew more confident from his interactions within the community. Now he drives a large van to pick up donations to the centre, serves and cooks food and does whatever other tasks need doing. “I’m proud of it,” says Terry of his work at the centre, adding he’s made some good friends and really enjoys his work.
“I think about what I went through. If you put yourself back there, nothing looks bad.” That is the attitude Terry lives with everyday and it’s one he takes with him to The Hope Centre every week. “I get a good feeling,” he says of his work there,”I know I’m making a little difference.” Terry began volunteering six years ago to improve his own recovery, now he continues to volunteer because it is important to him. “I’ll probably be doing it for the rest of my life,” he states, “I’m happy doing it.”
I want to thank Brenda Lanigan, Administrator of the Hope Centre here in Welland, for accepting me into the transitional housing for men at 116 Division Street on July 2nd 2015.
I was the first man in the program and it allowed me to get back to Welland after being away for close to 11 months due to personal reasons. I was really happy when Brenda contacted me to tell me she had a place for me to stay through The Hope Centre.
This allowed me to come back to Welland where I had lived for the previous 14 years and to allow me the time to get back to work, find a place to stay and get my life going again.
I know that his men’s program will and is very helpful to men who are having troubles in their lives and it will allow them to be in a safe and clean environment until they can get their life back on track.
I sincerely hope that our governments at both levels, back this program and gives it the financial assistance it needs and deserves.
Keep up the good work Brenda, Kevin, The Hope Centre Director and the rest of the staff at The Hope Centre, Office, Food bank and soup kitchen.
Thank you again for your assistance and support in this great program for men at 116 Division Street Welland.
It was a bad time in my life; if I had to do it again I jump off the top of the bridge backwards. I had to get out where I was living. I had to get out because it wasn’t very pleasant there. First I moved into a hotel for a month. Then I went in the transitional housing with The Hope Centre. I stayed there for four months. It was somewhere to go. I had a small room and I had to get used to it. I had to share things. I had to share the kitchen, living room and the bathroom. I mostly stayed to myself. I just tried to get along with everyone. That is how you get through the days and nights. Kevin was a nice guy. He helped everyone and asked us if we needed anything. Brenda and Mark had a lot of patience with the people who had problems at the Hope Centre. They took care of it in the way it had to be taken care of. I talk to other people who lived in transitional housing when I run in to them. They tell me what is going on in their life. They tell me their problems and I try to answer the best I can. They say thank you and shake my hand. One young man who I lived with there now comes to see me for help. I talk to him, listen to him and give him advice. I like to help people who are down and out. I hope they can do better in their new lives. After five months in the transitional housing, John found me my own place and I am very happy. I can now get on with my life in my own place. I am on the right track.
Thank you very much for everything. God bless and wish you the best of Luck
My name is Kevin Duncan. I’ve been asked to share my experience, strength and hope in regards with my time with The Hope Centre. I first became involved with The Hope Centre over a year ago after becoming sober in the AA program. I found myself wanting to give back to the community and help people better their lives.
I started out volunteering at the Hope Centre Food Bank. I did this for several months, and then was brought onto the emergency energy program as a volunteer to help families at risk of disconnection of gas and hydro. It was truly a meaningful experience. I was then approached by my superiors and asked if I would be willing to supervise and monitor the Hope Centre Men’s Transitional Housing Residence. I agreed and took the job and it has turned out to be a great success for me. The confidence, trust and responsibility that the Hope Centre has placed in me has allowed me to take my new life of being sober to levels I have never imagined. The Hope Centre accepted me from the time I walked through their doors volunteering at the food bank. I am very grateful and humbled that the Hope Centre has played such a huge role in my recovery and giving me back my life. As it turns out through my work with the Hope Centre I discovered I have a gift. I am good at helping people. I firmly remain committed to the Hope Centre and my work. They have become family and friends and co-workers. Flatly and bluntly put if it wasn’t for the Hope Centre and the confidence and trust that they have placed in me I don’t believe I would be the man I have become today. I owe them my life.
With much respect,
Transitional Housing Advisor