Three years ago, Leo and his family were happy. They moved to Calgary, had stable jobs and were happy and healthy.
Then, Leo received an unimaginable phone call. He was told his teenage daughter had taken her own life.
With his wife and three other children – all between the ages of 8 and 18 – arriving home at any moment, he had to hold it together, but he couldn’t.
The family was consumed by grief and emotion. Not knowing how to cope, and with no network of support in Calgary, Leo and his wife turned to illicit substances. It numbed the pain. “But it made things really, really bad,” says Leo. “We lost our jobs and we lost our home.”
Then one day Leo overdosed. He woke up in the hospital. “It was the wake-up call I needed,” recalls Leo. “I could have died. So I quit cold, with medical supports in place, and have been clean since.”
After the overdose, the family was connected to crisis supports, moved to a shelter, and started to gain some stability. A few months later, Leo and his family were connected to Closer to Home.
As a service provider through the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Adaptive Case Management program, Closer to Home is helping to stabilize families experiencing homelessness. The program, known internally at Closer to Home as Home Again, offers individualized supports and financial assistance to help families secure and sustain housing.
Leo was connected with a Closer to Home Family Support Worker who is part of the Home Again team. In less than three months, the family found a suitable rental home. The Family Support Worker worked alongside the family to help connect them with resources and provide basic needs referrals.
With a place to call home, the family is now starting to set goals. Knowing that his family is stable, Leo and his wife can work on their mental and emotional health. He is ready to accept counselling and grieve his daughter’s death in a healthy way.
Leo is also reaching his employment goals. In fact, he has recently found work that helps him contribute more towards their rent, allowing a small reduction in rent subsidy.
Reflecting on her work with the family, the Family Support Worker says their story is only one example of how life can quickly spiral out of control when the unimaginable happens – to any of us. “But with programs like this in place, I have no doubt we can help many more families climb out of crisis.”