By Jensen, Randy on September 12, 2020.
Volunteers with the Kii maa pii pii tsin “Kindness to Others” Renewal and Healing Centre, formerly known as the Foundation of Hope, held an outreach event in Galt Gardens on Friday to provide food for Lethbridge’s homeless and to speak about the challenges of recovery from addiction.
The organization’s founder Alvin Mills, who also works as an addictions outreach worker with the Kainai Bringing the Spirit Home detox centre, said he and other volunteers have helped transport about 30 people from Lethbridge to Standoff for treatment in the past three weeks.
“We’re trying to get them on the road to recovery,” he said. “We’re actually the first contact, and as soon as they are ready we have the ride. Bringing Home the Spirit is actually good at taking the people we have been referring so far. We just keep that going, and hopefully everything keeps falling into place.”
Mills says he and his group are looking for help from the community to make this type of transport more regular; so when someone is ready for treatment they can go right now, he says, and they don’t miss their opportunity. Mills and his nephew have been doing most of the driving themselves, and are looking for more resources and ways to lighten the load.
Mills and his group have also continued their plans to create a 25-bed after-treatment centre to foster the long-term recovery of individuals by helping them confront and make peace with the trauma and grief which led to their addiction, in many cases, in the first place.
Being out on the street and speaking with people who are addicted to drugs to convince them to take detox and treatment are the first steps on the long road to recovery, explained Mills. Therefore, he and his foundation volunteers do regular community events and sandwich runs to maintain contact with those who they hope will one day seek out treatment and recovery when they are ready.
“We are trying to feed the at-risk and vulnerable, and we just continue to do that,” he explained. “Give them any supports we can. Let’s try and stand behind the people who are struggling. They have families, and they are like everyone else.”
The event on Friday provided food, music and a sense of community to those in need, and Mills was thankful for the ongoing community support his organization continues to receive in both Lethbridge and on the Blood Tribe reservation.
“I just wanted to thank our leadership,” he said: “Lance Tailfeathers, Kirby Many Fingers, Marcel Weasel Head and our Chief Roy Fox for their ongoing support for the functions we do for the people who are struggling out here. We just keep going forth, and hopefully the entities can come together and keep helping the ones who are struggling. And there are a lot of people struggling, and they are coming from all over. One thing I really want to stress is when it gets colder, with the pandemic, it is going to get harder for the people.”
Melissa Many Fingers, a mother of two and an addict now in recovery after receiving treatment at Bringing Home the Spirit during the past year, added her voice to that of Mills. As she approaches the one-year sobriety mark on Oct. 9, Many Fingers recalled she once lived on the street in Lethbridge and many had written her off.
“It really helped to change my life going in (to Bringing the Spirit Home), and it was one of the biggest game changers for me,” she said. “As much as I wanted to give up, I always thought about the people I lost, and I was losing myself and my spirit. Going back to actually finding who I am, and feeling a part of life again É I would just say to people don’t give up. Because no matter how hard it gets, and how rough it gets out there, you can’t give up.
“Even just a little bit of hope can go a long way,” she added.
Many Fingers, who was also helping to serve sandwiches on Friday, said reaching out to those on the streets is crucial to getting them to understand there might be a better way forward.
“It makes you feel good,” she said. “Just by helping Alvin out (today), I feel like I am making a difference.”
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