Why We Exist
Robert’s Story: Robert was a complex man, who faced many complex problems in his life.
At the age of eight, following years of physical, mental and emotional trauma, Robert became a ward of the foster care system. At the age of 16, Robert left the foster care system and became involved with street life. During these years, Robert struggled with drug and alcohol addictions and was in constant conflict with the criminal justice system.
Later in life, Robert faced even more challenges when he was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, as well as HIV. His complex health needs continued to add additional challenges in his daily life, ultimately hindering his ability to live the life he wanted and deserved. Years of financial instability, substance abuse, and participation in the sex work industry, while continuing to deal with his complex health needs, marginalized Robert in his community. Ultimately, Robert became withdrawn and distrustful of community workers and social institutions. Although Robert had been referred to several specialists, addiction counselors and life skills programs, he was often refused treatment based on prior criminal convictions and anti-social behaviour.
Because Robert did not have the opportunity to acquire conventional life skills as a youth, he often struggled to maintain his living space, his personal finances and even cooking for himself. Robert and his caseworkers recognized that his general well-being and quality of life would improve if the proper support systems could be accessed and utilized.
In January of 2009, Robert became a resident in one of SHARP Foundation’s programs, giving him access to supportive resources that could assist him in areas of his life that were challenging to address on his own. Robert enjoyed the stability the SHARP program offered him; however, it soon became evident that Robert would benefit more from a program that was able to offer him higher levels of individual support and care.
Robert was transferred to the more intensive, long-term care program offered by SHARP called “Beswick House”. Beswick House was able to help Robert stabilize his medication regime, while addressing his addictions and mental health concerns. It was at Beswick House that Robert flourished and became an active, contributing member in his local community. He often helped preparing meals, aided in household tasks, and offered assistance to the more disabled residents in the house.
Robert came to love the community and companionship Beswick House offered and ways it enabled him to secure the structure, friendship and security he was unable to obtain prior to his residency. The support and compassion offered by the SHARP Foundation and supporting staff allowed Robert to pursue the life he truly wanted and deserved. Robert was able to participate in a community where he was understood and accepted, dramatically improving his health and well-being.
Robert happily resided at Beswick House for three years until his sudden passing in 2013. Over 50 people from all parts of the community came together to celebrate his life; he would have appreciated knowing that he had touched the hearts of so many!