Our Stories

"Good Shepherd helped to keep me alive."

Keith Alexander, 2013

I was raised by loving, hard-working, respectful parents. I had a good education. But both my parents were alcoholics.

My father stopped drinking when I was three, but started again when my mother got cancer when I was nine years old. My mom died that year. My very stable world became very unstable. I spent some time in an abusive foster home. I began smoking cigarettes and marijuana.

After high school, I joined the Navy, where I was introduced to various drugs, none of which I found addictive.

Then when I was about 24, I saw my older brother smoking cocaine, and I urged him to share. When I felt the effects, I realized I had crossed a line.

I left the Navy, went to New York, went to Miami, and finally ended up in Toronto, working as a hairstylist in Yorkville. I became successful. I lived on Bay Street.

Then in 1991, when I was 29, my father and my best friend both died in the same month. I was not equipped to deal with the loss. It really tore at me. I remembered the ease and comfort that came from smoking freebase cocaine. That started my hard-core addiction.

It didn’t take long. Within a year I was homeless. Between 1992 and 2010, I went to treatment 13 times. I was really trying, but I didn’t understand what complete surrender was.

I was introduced to the Good Shepherd first through the meals. Then I used the emergency shelter – I have been an overnight resident on the third floor many, many times. I have been a resident of the DARE Program at least 10 times.

Then in 2010, I was granted yet another moment of clarity. At that point, the hole I had dug in my life was so deep, I thought only aliens could pull me out. I went to the DARE Program from detox. I had an outstanding warrant, and while I was in DARE I faced that warrant. I was arrested.

In that cell, I went down on my knees and I asked God to come into my life. I left with a promise to God that I was going to follow Christ. I came back to Good Shepherd, and I continued the DARE Program.

During the time that I was on the streets, I was arrested hundreds of times. I slept in stairwells, under bridges. I’ve been involved in humiliating acts of degradation – just incomprehensible, pitiful, demoralizing actions. I had become insane and sometimes dangerously antisocial.

As a result of my surrender to God, I have been restored to sanity and become a productive member of society. I am currently a member of the Grant AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church. I am on the Board of Trustees, and a member of three of the choirs. It gives me really great joy and pleasure and fulfillment. I have a nice little apartment with a cat.

My best friend and I are both survivors of this disease called addiction. I have been given a brand new life.

Good Shepherd Centre basically took care of me. The DARE Program allowed me to pursue my sober journey in a safe, clean, respectful environment. We’re treated better than we deserve by the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd is a clear example of what giving is about. It’s an amazing ministry which is why I volunteer here. I can’t imagine going anywhere else – it’s the one place. Good Shepherd helped to keep me alive.

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