A Former Addict Who is Hooked on Giving Back

Mike Rapp kneels down with pet dog in front of him
by SalvationArmy.ca

At an early age, Mike was diagnosed with a learning disability and needed extra help and support. Sadly, he was vulnerable to bullying, which led to a lifetime of dangerous and addictive drug use. Sober, for nine years, he now volunteers with The Salvation Army, who he says has done more for him than he could imagine.

“Having the opportunity to give back to people who need help gives me a sense of responsibility, takes my mind off my worries, and keeps me motivated,” says Mike. “I feel valued here.”

“I feel valued here.”

At age 10, bullying was deliberate, and Mike got beat up at school all the time. He soon found acceptance into a local gang where, through Marijuana use, he found status and acceptance.

“I continued to hang out with the wrong crowd,” says Mike. “A teacher told me that Marijuana was the gateway to other drugs. I didn’t believe it and by age 15 was using cocaine, crack cocaine and ecstasy.”

After 40+ years of being married to a crack pipe and a bottle of Vodka, Mike got clean and sober. But over the years, the stress of coping with a learning disability often led to episodes of depression. One day Mike was feeling down when a friend in his apartment building asked if he would like to feed people experiencing homelessness through The Salvation Army.

“I consider The Salvation Army my second family.”

“At first, I was skeptical,” says Mike. “Now I consider The Salvation Army my second family.”

On any given day, you can find Mike volunteering at The Salvation Army in Burnaby, B.C. Mike feels privileged to give back to his community, from caring for those living on the streets to handing out water to clients or stacking the shelves at the food bank.

“I volunteer whenever I am needed,” says Mike. “If they want me to cut the grass, I cut the grass.”

Mike says seeing people he has helped with big smiles on their faces brings him much joy.

“When I first walked through the doors of The Salvation Army, I had a good vibe,” says Mike. “I knew this was a place I wanted to be.”

By Linda Leigh