Wayne first connected to Wesley programs twenty years ago when he was homeless and addicted, drinking non-consumables like mouthwash. “I was very sick, my liver was shot,” he remembers.
He started drinking alcohol when he was in grade 9. By the time he was twenty, he was living in shelters and on the streets. “I was drinking all the time, partying, doing drugs and getting into a lot of fights. I could easily have up to twenty drinks a day,” Wayne says.
Wayne’s story is part of a tragic piece of Canadian history, known as the Sixties Scoop. “I was born in Saskatchewan in the Peepeekisis Nation and was abused physically and mentally,” he quietly shares.
When he was eight years old, he was adopted by a family in Ancaster through the Children’s Aid Society. “When I was adopted, I changed my name to Wayne, after my hero Wayne Gretzky,” he said, smiling as he recalls this moment.
In his early twenties, Wayne worked as a general labourer and as a library clerk but his alcoholism always got in the way of keeping any work long-term.
Wayne was one of Wesley’s first residents in the Claremont House, now called the Special Care Unit, for women and men living with homelessness and addictions. He remembers how much he liked having his own bedroom and the comfort this brought to his life.
He also sadly remembers how no one else from his ‘street family’ at that time made it except for him. “We were fading fast. I must have gone to over twenty funerals. It was so sad, those people were like my family.”
Wesley’s support has been a constant in his life over the past two decades, as well as his adopted Dad who would often visit Wayne at Wesley. Sadly, his Dad is now sick with cancer, but Wayne still talks with him frequently.
In May, Wayne went back on the streets for a month and our housing staff quickly found him new accomodations.
He continues to come to Wesley Day Centre and accesses the health and recreation activities we offer. This recently included a cooking class to make stuffed peppers and a mindfulness session, although he jokes, “I’m not much of a good listener!”
Wayne has a hard time walking, despite having back surgery six years ago. But he is grateful for the life he has, “I know I’m lucky to be here now,” he says.
Like Wayne, most homeless people have experienced childhood trauma and this motivates our significant programming with vulnerable children, youth and families.
If you’d like to support folks like Wayne, facing significant barriers in their lives, please consider making a donation to our programming.
Rapidly rising rents, the opioid crisis and reductions in several key grants increasingly make us rely on donations from individuals like you.
You can make a fast, secure donation online here, or learn about other donation options, including cheque or by phone here. If you’d like to dedicate a donation to someone on your Christmas list, you can do so here.