Brooke’s Way Back

Brooke with wife and daughter

Change is never easy. For those facing mental health struggles and overcoming substance use disorders, the road to recovery can have setbacks, and it can be challenging to find the strength to reach out for help.

Twelve years ago, Brooke wrestled through his new sobriety before being hospitalized for bipolar depression and anxiety. “I was self-medicating to exist in the world,” he remembers, “Once I took it all away, things went into chaos.” Brooke lost his apartment, had no money saved, no job and needed somewhere to stay.

“Before Harbour Light, I didn’t have any life-skills such as budgeting, cooking or saving money”

While at the hospital, Brooke’s social worker secured him a room at The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light in downtown Toronto. “Before Harbour Light, I didn’t have any life-skills such as budgeting, cooking or saving money,” he says. “After my one year with The Salvation Army, I learned so many great habits that pushed me to succeed in all facets of my life.”

The Toronto Harbour Light offers transitional housing and a residential treatment program with a strengths-based, trauma-informed approach to recovery.  Brooke and his caseworker worked on an individualized action plan, allowing for consistent personal growth, structure and accountability as he strived for his goals. Brooke was also offered several life-skills classes, including cooking, nutrition workshops and financial literacy.

Shortly after his stay at Harbour Light, he got his job back at a local restaurant and, with hard work and dedication, he received more managerial positions. Now that life is stable, he is back in school to complete a social work program that focuses on mental health and recovery.

“The Salvation Army is here to help without judgement”

“I met my wife, who has been the light of my life, and now I can say one of my greatest achievements is becoming a father,” Brooke says. “When I first stepped foot in Harbour Light, I never imagined I would be here.”

Brooke is moving into a three-bedroom apartment and has been in recovery for 12 years with more than five years of sobriety. “Though I relapsed, I knew where to go and what to do to turn my life around through the values, resources and skills I learned at The Salvation Army.”

Brooke discovered a lot through his time at Harbour Light, but one of his most powerful life lessons has been making and maintaining relationships with family and friends. “The Salvation Army took me in and treated me like family,” Brooke beamed. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are or what you believe—The Salvation Army is here to help without judgement.”


By: Sharifa Duncan