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Battling homelessness in the community

Centres unite to offer solutions for those with addiction issues

A group of mostly Oshawa-based non-profit organizations have come together to send a local homeless man to rehab in London. (Photo by Chris Jones)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

A group of non-profit charitable organizations have come together to help combat homelessness in Oshawa.

The group of organizations, mostly Oshawa-based, began when a relationship developed with a homeless man.

Donna Loback, the president and founder of Community Builders Network of Hope (CBNH), explains everything started when Roy Graves, the director of First Light Foundation of Hope, a drop-in centre in downtown Oshawa, built a relationship with a homeless man named Paul who suffered with substance abuse problems.

After spending time with Graves, Paul admitted he wasn’t happy with his life, and wanted to make a change.

“So, Roy actually said to him there is a drug rehab centre he could go to,” says Loback.

The rehab program lasts for one year, and is faith-based, according to Loback.

“But the success rate is about 70 per cent or higher,” she explains.

The rehab centre, called Teen Challenge in London, took him in.

CBNH covered the registration fee in order for him to enter the rehabilitation program with assistance from Leader Impact Durham Ladies Group, and the Brian English Foundation.

Paul has been in rehab for around a month now, and Loback says he is doing well.

Mark Thomas, development officer at the Ontario Men’s Centre for Teen Challenge, explains those in the rehabilitation program experience a daily routine in order to maintain discipline.

“They’re up at about 6:30 in the morning, they’re in the chapel from 6:45 to 7:15 to do their morning devotions…, we have breakfast and then half the day they’re in the classroom learning  biblical principles, and in the afternoon they work on the property… and at night is pretty much free-time,” says Thomas.

Thomas explains Paul will have prospects set up for him when he finishes the rehabilitation program.

“The last four months of the program is what we call the ‘transition phase’,” explains Thomas. “So, we’re helping the guys get back into society. Part of that is to find a home, to find employment, to find a home church, to find mentorship, and to find accountability. All of those things we set them up with.”

Teen Challenge also offers an extension of the program for up to another year, which Thomas calls a “phase four internship,” and the men are paid a small amount every month.

Loback explains she believes this is a success story which the community needs to hear about.

“I look at it as two-fold for success,” she explains. “The first is that a homeless person experiencing substance abuse is now in rehab – that is the first success. To me the second success is that it was a partnership. It took not just one organization or agency, but it took a partnership to come together to make this happen. I believe that is a success story.”

Loback is challenging residents to partner up and become community builders, whether it is through volunteering or community building, as she notes, “It takes a community to make a difference.”

Loback hopes this is only the beginning, and they will be joined by others to help those in need.