“I was a person to just accept offers thinking nothing is going to happen to me — but really, on the inside of my body I was crying for help.”

At the age of sixteen, Jacinta’s life took a turn as she began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. After getting kicked out of school and not finding any other schools that would accept her, Jacinta’s childhood dream of becoming a nurse practitioner began to fade away. Eventually, Jacinta’s addiction led her to homelessness. In the winter she would couch surf — but that never felt safe. As soon as it was warm enough, she would set up her tent on the outskirts of Edmonton.

“In that kind of life, you’ve got to be tough.”

Jacinta would occasionally make trips back to her reserve to spend time there. One time while she was at her reserve, she was sitting in church praying to God and asking him for help so that she could escape this life of drugs and addiction. Right in that moment, God sent someone who encouraged Jacinta to join him for AA meetings.

After going to some AA meetings, Jacinta had a conversation with her chief about how she really wanted to quit. He encouraged her to pray and ask God for help. It wasn’t long after this conversation that Jacinta took the steps that led her to Hope Mission’s Wellspring Program.

“I’m very proud of myself. I feel so much of a woman — a strong, native woman who just wants to make something better for her life, kids, and people back home.”

By the grace of God, Jacinta is now ten months sober and in the final phase of Hope Mission’s one-year recovery program for women. Soon, she hopes to pursue her childhood dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner — an opportunity for her to give back and spread love to the community.

For Jacinta, access to safe shelter and meals were a core part of her recovery — especially the special holiday meals that made her feel at home and gave her hope to keep pushing forward. Today, Jacinta has hope for a better future.

“Hope Mission has changed me. It gave me a shelter to live in. It gave me a place to redeem myself. The meals there are really appreciated — because it got me through to where I am today. If it weren’t for them to cook the way they do, I don’t think anyone would survive the street.”

This Thanksgiving, you can provide a meal and care for a hurting and hungry neighbour for just $2.70. For many, a simple meal can be the beginning of a journey towards healing, hope, and transformation.