A stranger at a drop-in centre changed Lynn Evans’ life.
“I was homeless, jobless, and using any money I had to support my habit,” Lynn recalls. “And one day at a drop-in centre, a woman suggested that maybe I needed to look at my life from a different angle.
I was always waiting for things to get better so I could quit drinking and using. I thought I needed a miracle to happen so I could stop. But she helped me see that when I stopped, that’s when life would get better. It hit me hard, but once I realized that this really was up to me, I was open to creating my own miracle.”
Still, Lynn faced a long journey to recovery. She attended numerous programs, but was challenged to maintain sobriety when she left treatment. “People don’t realize it,” she says, “but homelessness is such a barrier to living a clean life.” Without a home to return to, Lynn returned to the system of shelters and drop-in centres she had cobbled together – and the lifestyle that had brought her there in the first place.
Finally, in the summer of 2010 – eight years after she was first introduced to a treatment centre — Lynn hit rock bottom. Physically ill and hospitalized from tainted drugs, she was afraid for her future but willing to use her fear to grow.
“I had been to Renascent twice before and never completed treatment,” she notes. “This time, I was determined it would be different. Renascent brought me to hope.”
Treatment led to transitional housing, post-secondary education, several diplomas and, years later, a job at Renascent. “I have a remarkable life,” Lynn says. “I love my job. My son lives half a block away, I have three grandchildren, two cats, a dog, and a great apartment. I have a huge support network of family and friends who are always cheering me on. I am so grateful.”
Today, she’s a counsellor at Renascent’s Graham Munro Centre and a recipient of the Yielding Family Legacy Recovery Award in honour of the excellence, commitment and impact she brings to her work. Lynn’s holistic approach ensures programming is therapeutic through artful expressions such as walking meditation, crafting, and journal art.
“I love spending time with our clients and getting to know them on another level,” she says. “Some have had to tell their stories many, many times, and they’re exhausted. Others struggle to find the words. Using creative ways to connect gives them a chance to express themselves and engage in self-care. It’s amazing to watch them come alive in the process.”
She’s also quick to share her experiences, and to encourage those who have attempted recovery in the past to persevere.
“The message I try to share with all women,” Lynn says, “is to have H.O.P.E. That stands for ‘Hold On, Pain Ends.’ You must not give up. In recovery, there’s always a seat for you, no matter where you are.
You can’t stay sober on yesterday’s meetings.”