St. Stephen's Community House

Rui Freire

Rui FreireRui Freire

A place to call home

“Life was good. I employed ten people in my carpentry business and was clearing $25,000 profit every month. I felt invincible. But when my health declined and doctors said I needed back surgery, I refused. I was afraid. When I was five, my mother had breast cancer. I didn’t understand and I would wake up every day back then traumatized. Those memories never left me, even as an adult. In the end, I lost my business. Bills piled up and depression set in. I lost myself in a spiral of drugs, alcohol, and bad people.

Years later, I was living at a shelter trying to get through rehab. One of my friends lived at L.L. Odette Place and I visited him regularly. Being at Odette and the Corner Drop-in downstairs was a reprieve for me since my shelter was only open at night. The welcome I received there was overwhelming. I started connecting with staff and after a while, when a space opened at Odette, they offered it to me.

Having a safe, private space was so important when I was going through withdrawal, for the privacy, for my own bed, and having the support of Corner staff through the difficult time. It also gave me a sense of purpose. Once, one of the other tenants was harming himself. I intervened and luckily, he was better after a short hospital stay. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been there.

Today I’m a part-time superintendent for Odette Place. I’m still working on some things but life is better.”

Read more stories | Read more stories from the 2018/2019 Annual Report