“The most amazing thing is that I have lived until now,” says Stephen Maloney, a lifetime Victoria resident who’s recently settled into the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s new affordable senior’s housing at Mount Edwards Court.
Maloney has faced many challenges over his 70 years, but thanks to the stability of his new home he’s feeling optimistic for the future and reflective about the past.
“Just to have survived is really a miracle. I have a real sense of gratitude that I am still alive.”
After a friend offered Maloney narcotics at the age of 19, he’s spent a lifetime battling drug addiction. He’s bounced from healthy homes to the streets, shelters, and hospital beds.
When he saw how his addiction was affecting his loved ones, Maloney made the tough decision to ask his mother to care for his eight-year-old son Mark.
“The whole family is addicted because they are living with a drug addict. It’s just that they don’t get the drugs.”
Difficult days lead to new hope
Last year Maloney was living on the streets, struggling with his addiction once again. From there he fell ill and spent a long time in hospital. It wasn’t easy.
“Most of my thoughts were occupied with suicide. Fortunately, I didn’t want to hurt my family.”
When Maloney was released from hospital he moved to the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Rock Bay Shelter. Then a room opened up on the new floor of Cool Aid’s Mount Edwards Court and his life really started to turn around.
“A place like Mount Edwards, for me, is one of the main building blocks of recovery. Having a place of safety and security are two major foundations that you need to have before you can do anything else,” Maloney says, “You need to get some people behind you. Start to utilize some of the services where people are willing to help you.”
Cool Aid opens doors, opens hearts
“The Victoria Cool Aid Society has been working to end homelessness since 1968,” says Lori Angelini, Cool Aid’s Manager of Philanthropy. As the CRD’s largest organization helping people who are homeless and at risk, they are at the forefront of aid.
- Housing and Shelters— Affordable housing is a key part of the solution to homelessness and makes neighbourhoods safer and more vibrant. Cool Aid operates 14 apartment buildings for over 580 individuals with a wide variety of needs.
- Community Health Services–The Cool Aid Community Health Centre provides health and dental care to 7,000 patients each year.
- Resources, Recreation and Well-being–Cool Aid offers free recreation and wellness programs at the Downtown Community Centre and support services that connect people with the resources they need to improve their lives.
- Labour Pool–The Community Casual Labour Pool provides temporary and short-term employment opportunities to a wide variety of skilled workers. Contact Wendy at 250-388-9296 or labour@CoolAid.org if you’re interested in hiring a worker.
- Food and Nutrition–Cool Aid serves nearly 1,000 nutritious meals every day of the year. The quality of food and the opportunity to share a meal with others has a direct impact on health and wellness.
To see more of the great work the Victoria Cool Aid Society has done over the years, follow them on Facebook. Help Cool Aid host a holiday meal this December at coolaid.org/donate.