Travis went from experiencing homelessness to studying at university. Now, he’s helping others get their lives on track by working at a local homeless shelter.
A day in the life of 24-year-old Travis is a busy one – studying computer science at Dalhousie University, working as a teaching assistant and lab instructor and taking on shifts at a local homeless shelter. It’s this structure that he craved his whole life and didn’t find until he showed up at the door of a United Way-funded transition home for men recovering from addictions.
As a kid, Travis excelled in school and spent as much time there as possible to avoid going home, a home that he was eventually removed from at the age of 15.
Travis floated between group homes and friends’ couches while he finished high school, but the pain and anger that was bubbling inside of him surfaced and he began to lash out at those closest to him. “I finally burned enough bridges that I had to leave town,” said Travis.
Hitchhiking across the country and living on the streets was how Travis spent the next five years of his life. He began dabbling in drugs when he was 19, and eventually succumbed to a heroin addiction. Even though he wanted nothing to do with this earth or anyone on it, the drugs were getting him through the days. And it took a lot to break that cycle - something that Travis doesn’t take any responsibility for.
That break came in 2015 when Travis was given a second (or maybe third or fourth) chance at life – to go home to Nova Scotia and get clean.
After a couple months in Halifax, Travis was accepted into a transition home for men recovering from addiction. Their strict rules included attending daily 12 step recovery program meetings, checking in before leaving the house to tell staff where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and obeying a curfew.
“For the first time maybe ever, I was being held accountable,” says Travis. He committed to attending two to three 12 step meetings every day – over and above the program’s requirements. Travis was going to do everything he could to not to fall back into old habits. He was ready to start his life.
When I was at my worst, I would walk down the street and people would pretend I wasn’t there. Nowadays, people cross the street just to say hi.