When Jeff first arrived at the Dr. Peter Centre Residence he was so sick he couldn’t walk. Over the next year and a half, he regained his health, strength and his sense of purpose.
“I was an absolute mess,” Jeff says. “I had given up on life, but the Dr. Peter Centre nurses and staff didn’t give up on me. They always showed that they cared about me. And pretty soon I started getting better.”
When Jeff was well enough, he moved out of the Dr. Peter Centre and began attending the Day Health Program. These days, he comes every day for meals, nursing, and to volunteer his time clearing up in the café and helping out where he can. He credits the Centre’s seven-day-a-week service for keeping him well and giving his life structure.
“Having somewhere to go every day means everything to me,” he says. “I don’t know what I’d do without it.” Jeff is an outdoorsy guy who grew up in Chilliwack and worked as a logger for 26 years. His father, with whom he was very close, died suddenly when Jeff was 16 and he was abruptly thrown into adult life. Soon he became a father himself, but his marriage was short-lived and, more often than not, he found himself working in remote logging camps far from his young daughters.
“It was hard to be away from them, but what was I supposed to do?” Jeff says. “I needed to work to provide for them.”
Jeff struggled with his personal life, but threw himself into his career as a logger. Unfortunately, Jeff lost his job in 2002 when the logging industry went into decline. The layoff meant more than losing his income; it meant losing his sense of identity.
“I had a really hard time with that. Logging was my life,” Jeff says. “I started using drugs and within three years was HIV positive.”
These days, Jeff works hard to stay healthy and optimistic with the help of the Dr. Peter Centre. “Everyone here cares about you,” he says. “The staff is fun and makes you laugh. I didn’t know people like this existed. I’m used to seeing the other side of life."