Bill’s story of transformation from a life of crime and pain, to healing and renewal at The Salvation Army Belkin House

by British Columbia
Categories: Uncategorized


By all accounts, Billy didn’t stand much a chance. He grew up in a troubled home: His father, both a drug addict and alcoholic, was physically abusive to him, his siblings, and his mother. He was forced at far too young an age to protect his mother from his father’s outbursts, to be the adult in his fragile home. In his heart, Billy didn’t really have a home, or a family. He didn’t receive the loving care and protection that all children need, and was forced to look for it in other places.

As a young teenager, Billy found acceptance, friendship, and brotherhood in a biker gang. He assumed a new identity and a new name, Bear. Bear was a tough guy. With a new found confidence and community he completely abandoned rules and authority, assuming a life of organized crime and rebellion. For Bear, being involved in organized crime was a small price to pay for the family that he found in his biker gang, which brought some meaning to his life. Unfortunately, a life of crime put him behind bars.

After serving time in prison, Bear exited his biker gang and started cleaning up his life. He had become a father, and became highly invested in his daughter’s life. He also met a woman whom he loved, and got married. Bear was finally starting to experience a fairly normal life, finding meaning in positive things. For nearly two decades, Bear was content with his life. But rock-bottom was still to come.

In 2000, in his own words, Bear’s “life exploded.” His daughter died in a tragic car accident. His mother passed away. He divorced his wife; after he found out she was cheating on him with one of his closest friends. This all happened within one year. At the turn of the millennium, Bear lost all that he had to live for.

Bear turned to drugs to ease his pain. At this time he entered and graduated from a treatment program at The Salvation Army Harbour Light. Bear moved to Vancouver Island, attempting to rebuild his life. He was able to stay clean for the next five years.

Over the next five years, Bear suffered five heart attacks. With his physical health suffering, and his mental health declining, Bear refused to deal with the inner demons and deep emotions that lead him to drug use initially. Eventually, Bear reconnected with some old friends and started using drugs again. He found himself back at The Salvation Army, this time spending most of his time at Belkin House on Homer Street in Vancouver.

After treatment for drug addiction, Bear started a long-term treatment program consisting of holistic transformation. Bear was determined to find true peace and healing this time around.

Through extensive counseling, a loving environment, and lots of support from friendly staff, Bear has been rebuilding his life at Belkin House. Bear admits to having a hard time opening up and dealing with his emotions. Through powerful counseling with his life coach, Sarah, Bear has been able to experience healing from the many painful events in his life. He has given up his street name, Bear, and reassumed his original name, Bill.

Bill is thankful for The Salvation Army and Belkin House, for not giving up on him, and helping him through the long journey of transformation. “I’ve enjoyed what Belkin House has done for me,” says Bill. “They’ve helped me stay straight (drug-free), put me on the right medication for my mental health issues, helped me lose weight, and have been patient with me through slip ups. I know how much Belkin House has changed me.”

It has now been nearly two years since Bill first entered Belkin House. He is happily nearing an end to his transformation, spending a lot of time journaling, and dealing with his feelings with his life coach.

Bill encourages anyone who needs a second chance, insisting that Belkin House will help you get back on your feet, and find the right kind of healthy meaning in your life. “If you’re willing to listen, you can learn a lot here.”