In recognition of Homelessness Action Week from October 11 to October 17, Vancity Buzz will be featuring profiles and interviews with former residents of the Downtown Eastside and organizations trying to make a difference and detailing the troubled history of one of Vancouver’s most notorious neighbourhoods.
This series is presented in partnership with the Union Gospel Mission, which offers support, programs, and resources for people looking to overcome their addictions, re-enter the work force and take back control of their lives.
More information on the Union Gospel Mission can be found online.
Glenn Golding had what you could described as a fairly average upbringing for a middle class Canadian. He grew up in the North Shore with a supportive family and plenty of friends, lived in a nice neighbourhood, and played ice hockey in his spare time.
After years of partying with friends, the addictive nature of alcohol began to take hold, evolving into experimenting with marijuana and cocaine in his 20s.
“As I got older, my drinking began to become more of a problem,” he says. “When responsibilities came into my life, whether it was a relationship or a job, it became very difficult to maintain any kind of lifestyle, especially when I was trying to fight your addiction, and thinking everything is okay.”
At 26, Golding lost his younger brother to a heroin overdose. Instead of steering him away from the lifestyle he was leading, it only helped fostered a spiral into deeper addiction and depression.
It wasn’t until 1999 that Golding sought help for the first time. He enrolled in the Union Gospel Mission Drug & Alcohol Recovery program. After completing the program, Golding says he initially thought he was back on his feet, with a new apartment and a new job. However, it wasn’t long before things started to fall apart.
“It’s easy to come in to any treatment centre, fatten up a bit, get healthy, and get some new clothes,” says Golding. “It’s easy to make your appearance look better on the outside, but if you don’t work on that inside stuff, it’s really all for nothing.”
What followed for Golding was a string of lost jobs, forgotten years, and failed marriages. In 2008, Golding ended up back at the doors of UGM, but this time was different.
“When I came through the doors of the UGM this time, I knew I had to completely surrender,” he says. “I always had God in my life but didn’t utilize his principles and his teachings properly.”
For Golding, and for many of the other people that pass through the doors of UGM, faith had a large part to play in his recovery. A Christian since childhood, Golding found that once he looked more deeply into the teachings of the Bible, he found the strength he needed to keep on his path to recovery.
“I really wanted to listen this time around, and be more teachable, and absorb the information,” he says. “I wanted to walk the walk instead of just talking it. A lot of people can quote scripture from the Bible, and be educated, but this time I wanted to take action.”
After completing the Drug & Alcohol Recovery program for the second time, Golding began working at the UGM Thrift Store, with a whole new perspective on himself and the people around him.
“Learning more of the teachings of the Bible and practicing those principles was huge in my life,” he says. “Learning to respect people, looking at people differently, treat people differently. Learning a bit more about what love is.”
It’s been seven years since Golding touched alcohol or drugs, and says things have never been better. He credits the support of UGM staff and volunteers for giving him the kind hand he needed to get back on track.
“I’ve been in a few different treatment centres in my time, but the UGM treats the guys that do come into the program with a lot of respect,” he says. “They want to see people succeed. Not a lot of people are going to succeed the first time, second time, third time, but if just keep on trying, probably one of these times you’re going to get it.”
With a loving woman in his life, supportive friends, and a job he loves, he’s back in control of his life.
“I can honestly say this is almost the best seven years of my life,” he says.