We recently received a heartfelt thank you and Merry Christmas message from a former DI client. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did.

This post has been waiting on my fingers for a few days now. Some will be fooled by the name Sandy but the given name Sanford or Stan is what most will recognize.

The shelter came to mind as I was listening to local radio calling for donations to be given to the Inn of the Good Shepherd here in Sarnia, ON. To be more specific, I gave thought to the DI’s Christmas Wish List. Last year was the first time I took part in the program during the ten years or so I was associated with the DI. Prior to that there wasn’t much call for me to being festive at this time of year.

The DI gave me safe haven during the early stages of my sobriety. My decision to stay at the DI during that period seemed like a very odd choice to many people I know. They all thought i was doomed to failure in opting to take up residence on the 4th floor at the DI. After all, a good number of my former drinking partners frequented the centre. However, it was with the encouragement of the 4th floor staff, and others employed there, that I was able to see my way through it all. They all know who i chatted up frequently so i won’t try to acknowledge them all in this writing.

All who are employed there know quite well that people getting high and drunk are in abundance 24/7. I always made the trip down to the 2nd floor dayroom to take a look around first thing in the morning. One look at all of the drunken, high and hungover people was enough for me to say to myself, ‘No way, not today! It proved to be quite effective.

The whole experience gave me a great deal of hope for myself. That was the reason I finally took part in the Wish List program. It is a real eye opener when coming to realization that as long as I have breath in me, there is always hope. Through that hope i was finally able to start celebrating life after years of wandering with no sense about which way my life would go. It is with that fresh breath of life that I offer a heartfelt thank you to the staff employed at the DI. Had it not been for the DI offering me a bed during early sobriety even though i had once been barred for life at one point, maybe more than once, it is doubtful I would still be sober today.

Today I am living on the Aamjiwnaang FN. The community into which I was born. Slowly i am readjusting to life here and reconnecting with friends and family. I now have a partner I think the world of as well. Continued sobriety is the key to having this happen today. Once again I offer heartfelt thanks to the staff at the DI who encouraged me to carry on with my journey.

During this journey I either wrote or made the statement that I had swum through an ocean of crap and came out the other side feeling refreshed. Only those who have undergone similar trials in life will truly appreciate that statement.

With that having been said, I’ll once again take the opportunity to wish everybody associated with the DI a Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year.


Sanford Cottrelle.