St. Stephen's Community House participants

Bryan Deresti

Bryan DerestiBryan Deresti

The meaning of work

For Bryan Deresti, it wasn’t what caused his spiral into substance use and homelessness; it was what would keep him from sliding again.

After completing a treatment program for his substance use, Bryan was referred to our Peer Program. “I wanted the opportunity to get some meaning back in my life. Problem was, I felt like I would never work again. The Program gave me what I needed. There was no shame about who I was or what happened to me and the support from staff was unparalleled. After a long time, I had a sense of belonging and community. I felt like there was something I could offer.”

Through the Peer Program, Bryan worked at the Overdose Prevention Site in Moss Park and at Art Manuel House, our managed alcohol residence. With that surge of confidence, Bryan sought long-term employment and joined our Peer Pathways program.

Peer Pathways gives people with lived experience the skills and training they need to improve their employability, and a four month paid work placement with participating employers. The program also helps businesses and the community by improving diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Bryan used the program as a springboard to help people like himself at the Fred Victor supervised injection site.

“The transition from the programs at St. Stephen’s was seamless. Where I am now, in control and helping others … life has never been better!”

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