On March 22, 2017, the second Women Do Recover Award of Eduction was given to exceptional alumni; Kyla P.  Kyla will start at Douglas College in the Fall of 2017. She has expressed the desire to help others and is torn between the Child and  Youth Care Worker Program or  Social Work Program at Douglas College. We know that whichever program Kyla chooses she will excel and we can’t wait to see what the rest of her life has in store for her.

Since submitting her essay for The Women Do Recover Award of Education Kyla has obtained employment as a Care Worker at a Residential Addiction Centre and is already her way to living her dream of a career of helping others.

This was made possible by a partnership between Westminster House and Douglas College. Thank you to all Westminster House donors for making this opportunity possible.

To find out more about The Women Do Recover Award of Distinction click HERE.

To find out how you can help women like Kyla start their education journey HERE.

April 26, 2016 will forever be the most important day of my life; it’s the day my life truly began.

All of the moments before this life-altering day were plagued by unawareness, deceit, self-centeredness, and furthermore addiction. I was a tornado constantly destroying everything and everyone in my path.

That is until I stepped through the doors of the Westminster House and was given the ability to reclaim my life and write a new future; a future which is fueled by compassion, honesty, and determination, and free from the bondage of addiction.

Before completing treatment at the Westminster House, I had spoken a lot about going back to school, but I could never have imagined actually putting those words into action. I was far too distracted by the whirlwind of addiction and pain that was constantly throwing me against the walls which surrounded me. I had always managed to maintain a job and survive as a functioning addict before I came to the Westminster House, and I had planned on returning to my position as a Banking Advisor after completing treatment. Although I was not passionate about my role at the bank, I felt content with returning to it because it paid the bills and did not require post-secondary education.

I was comfortable, and I was too consumed by my addiction to even consider sacrificing this comfortability for a chance at pursuing something I am truly passionate about.

This was not the first time my drug abuse clouded my judgement and diminished my personal drive; I had already dropped out of post-secondary five years ago, too consumed with feeding my addiction to be concerned with furthering my education. This decision left me feeling as though my opportunity for advancing my education and making a career change had passed. I was settling for comfortability, a mundane job, and daily drug use rather than taking a healthy risk to better my future.

Today, my outlook on life is completely different.

I no longer run from change and feeling uncomfortable, I embrace it. The Westminster House has taught me self-esteem and self-worth, and I understand that now that I am clean from all harmful substances, there is no limit to what I can accomplish.  I can do anything that I strive to do, and I will.  I refuse to climb a corporate ladder and settle for comfortability in an unsatisfying, triggering job that I used substances at in order to get through the day.

I want to work in a fulfilling career that allows me to help the others who cannot help themselves.

Through having the opportunity to sponsor women in the Narcotic Anonymous program, I have found my passion: helping others who are in my position. I want to make a difference in other peoples’ lives rather than strive for a ‘pat on the back’ by a micro-managed corporation. I plan to obtain a part-time position as a support care worker at a treatment or detox centre to get experience in the field of counselling and assisting those suffering from addiction and mental health issues.

Before coming into recovery I would never have even considered quitting my job to work part-time for minimum wage in order to balance post-secondary education and pursue a career I am passionate about, but today that is my dream. My dreams of building a career based around assisting the needs of others would be greatly helped by winning this award as it would allow me to afford to take a step back from my current career to focus on my education and pursue a job in the field to help me achieve my career goals.

I entered treatment at the Westminster House in complete denial of how severe my addiction truly was.

Although I had overdosed and nearly lost my life the day prior to coming to treatment, I honestly thought that since I still had a job, a house, and a fiancé, that my addiction was minimal. I was so irrational that I believed I “wasn’t that bad” while I constantly compared myself to the severity of others.

I was egotistical and obsessed with my fiancé and wedding, which was rushed to be in May 2017, in order to follow a social trend to make myself feel “normal”.  Thankfully, through completing treatment and working a program of Narcotics Anonymous into my life, I’ve grown and changed more than I could have ever imagined.  Not only is my wedding cancelled, but I am discovering my true sexual orientation, allowing the pace of my relationship to slow down as well.  Before enduring treatment, I was not open to exploring my sexual orientation due to fear of judgement and of disappointing my religious family.

Today I choose to live in faith and not in fear; therefore I am honest about confusion and hope to use my story of the personal challenges I continue to work through to inspire others.

I’m currently on income assistance and helping to pay for a home that I’m not fully living in as I’ve needed space from my relationship in order to discover who I truly am, as well as time to continue my ongoing recovery without distraction.

Although having humility is difficult, practising acceptance around these life-altering changes are a beautiful gift of recovery. My current financial situation makes enrolling in post-secondary extremely challenging if I am to leave my job at the bank to pursue experience in the treatment field part-time during my studies. I currently do not qualify for a student loan and do not have the funds to pay upfront for schooling, nor do I have a family member who could contribute to my education.  As an addict whose main concern was paying for drugs, saving for school was not on the forefront of my priorities over the years. As a result, I would need to wait until I am able to save up enough money to afford to enrol in the post-secondary courses necessary for my career. Although it may take years for me to afford it on my own, I am determined to do anything I need to in order to make my dream career a reality.

I did not get clean just to live the same dull life I was living with my addiction.

My years of drug abuse have already robbed me of my drive and my education in the past, and I am determined to rewrite that past and put my goals into action. By winning the Award of Distinction, I would have the financial stability necessary to enrol in post-secondary education immediately and continue to pursue my dream career without delay.

The women at the Westminster House saved my life and the lives of many women through their compassion and experience with addiction and mental health, and I strive to have a compelling career following their path of helping others.

Counselling, mental health studies, and assisting those suffering from addiction are my career goals, therefore I’d love to enter the Community Social Service Work Program.  The Interviewing and Counselling skills course, as well as all three Community Practice courses (addictions, mental health, and employment) within this program, are intriguing as they could further my knowledge for my future position as a support care worker at a treatment centre, and eventually allow me to move on to counselling those suffering from addiction.

As my life was personally impacted by a youth-care worker while battling addiction in high-school, the Child and Youth Care Program peaks my interest to make a change in the world as well.

If it wasn’t for my youth-care worker Freya’s guidance, I do not know if I would be alive today. She counselled me since I was thirteen, when my substance abuse began until she passed away in 2010. I would love to do for others what she did for me at such a young age.  Our youth are our future and if I can change one young person’s life like she impacted mine, then I would be honoured to have made her proud.  Although all of the courses within this program are interesting to me, I am particularly intrigued by the Mental Health in Childhood and Adolescence, Counselling Children and Youth, and Family Violence, Abuse, and Recovery courses to further my future career.

I began a new life after attending the Westminster House. I discarded my old way of living and reclaimed a new one focused on my recovery, health, and future. The Award of Distinction would allow me to further reclaim the opportunities I threw away in my old life and continue to pass on this gift of viewing life through a new set of eyes that was generously given to me by the amazing counsellors who helped me along my path of recovery.

I am living proof that women do recover, and I want to dedicate myself to showing other women who are struggling with addiction that they too can recover and reclaim their life.

Kyla and Cass Smith – Westminster House Continued Care Coordinator