Just before she turned 19, Marilyn Peters found herself without a place to live. She made her way from Nanaimo to Vancouver, where she had stayed with her brother for eight months. She had no income or social assistance, and had nothing but the clothes on her back. “I had no idea what I was going to do or where to start,” said Marilyn.
The one thing that comforted her was alcohol. “It was the only thing I found that would make me happy at that time,” said Marilyn. She began to drink heavily and found herself on the street.
For two years she slept in parks, and went from shelter to shelter, drinking with friends through the day and night. Although she often had others around her, Marilyn found living without a home difficult. “I was really uncomfortable and hopeless.”
During her stay at a shelter in Surrey, Marilyn was informed about the Surrey Urban Mission, where Surrey residents are offered meals, programs, and individual assistance. Marilyn embraced the services and the friendship that the Mission offered, taking part in various community activities such as bottle drives and the weekly woman’s group, and receiving daily meals. It was here that she also met Surrey Urban Mission’s Executive Director, Jonquil Hallgate, who became a close friend and support for Marilyn and her children.
At 21, Marilyn decided it was time for a change. “I was tired of being homeless, and I was tired of drinking all the time.” She battled her addiction and entered a college program. It wasn’t easy, but after a lot of hard work, she passed, earning her secretarial certificate.
Marilyn’s life stabilized as she got sober. She and her boyfriend soon had two boys as well. Although her boyfriend slipped back into addiction, she is happy with what her life has become. It’s tough raising two young boys on her own in their two-bedroom apartment, but she is grateful for the continuing support of Jonquil and the Surrey Urban Mission.
Now an inspiration for many of her friends and family to get sober, Marilyn hopes to go back to college in the near future and become an addictions councilor and outreach worker. She wants to show those in the same situation she was once in herself, that there is hope for a better life.