An Officer’s Shadow Experience Leads to Greater Advocacy

Voice for the Voiceless - Grande Prairie
by Alberta
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“I would like to state chances are that without Captain Peter Kim…I would probably have been dead by now.” -Bob

Bob was struggling with an alcohol addiction. He had just graduated from a 90 day recovery program and on his way home he started drinking again. It took about one month before alcoholism took complete control of his life, and when Grande Prairie Salvation Army officer, Captain Peter Kim, first met him, Bob was drinking up to two bottles of vodka per day.

Bob and Peter’s journey began when Peter listened to Bob’s story, after which Peter had one question: “Bob, will you help me?” Bob was surprised; he thought that Peter was there to help him, but Peter shared his own experience of moving from “a punk to a Pastor” and that he had also lived on the streets.

“He wanted to learn more about addiction and homelessness. I agreed to let him join me so he could observe what a person in my position goes through,” said Bob. “He went with me to all of my appointments, counselling, psychiatry, housing, etc.”

Peter admits the experience was difficult at times as he had to let Bob navigate and ask questions, but he did step in when he felt that his dignity was being trampled upon. This journey allowed him to see what it was like to be homeless in this community, and observe how someone in Bob’s position was treated.

“I experienced the prejudices and the looks that some gave Bob because he was homeless,” says Kim. “There wasn’t a lot of humanity or compassion.”

The journey with Bob lasted from January to July, when Bob went into treatment. Peter realized that there is more work to be done in how the community supports people struggling with addiction and homelessness, so he started an advocacy committee called Voice for the Voiceless in July of 2017 with a special $20,000 grant. This committee consists of people who have experienced homelessness, rough living, being a single parent, and poverty. With this unique perspective, Voice for the Voiceless takes a very grassroots approach to helping vulnerable people. Their motto is “Nothing for us, without us.”

Peter believes that this lived experience group will help improve service delivery and provide a platform for advocacy for change.

“All we have to do is ask and listen,” says Kim. “We need to journey with people and not just provide services or programs. Relationships are the foundation of sharing Christ’s love and enacting true transformation in people’s lives, including ours.”

Bob is just finishing his addictions recovery program after half a year. They keep in touch and he is doing much better. Their journey together continues.

Bob and Capt. Peter Kim journeyed together through the system as Bob experienced homelessness and addiction.