Jacob Olscamp was living in Victoria’s homeless shelters with an empty stomach and a chip on his shoulder when he arrived on the doorstep of a blue and white house on Caledonia Avenue.
At Anawim House, which provides outreach and residential services to people in need who want to change their lives, he found more than just a hot meal, clothing and a shower.
He found a home in the place named in Hebrew for God’s precious poor.
“That was a pretty dark time in my life,” Olscamp, 26, said.
After a lengthy stay that began in 2009, he moved out. And while his life has been going better, he is in the process of moving back for extra support.
“I moved out of this place, but it was still a home for me,” said Olscamp, who took part in Anawim’s 20th anniversary recently.
Terry Edison-Brown was a 24-year-old drug addict living in a crack house with five other addicts when he showed up at Anawim House 16 years ago.
“I didn’t know what I felt, but I thought that there was something I could do in my life,” Edison-Brown said. “I realized I can’t keep white-knuckling it.”
He will never forget dropping by the home, located at 973 Caledonia Ave., on Christmas Day and was given a present with his name on it.
He moved in two weeks later.
Today, Edison-Brown manages the home where people drop-in for showers, laundry services and meals, while others, such as Olscamp, live in one of seven rooms available for men. Mentoring and counselling are also available.
“We’re here for people who want to make changes with their life,” Edison-Brown said.
Since January, Anawim’s outreach program has helped nearly 3,000 people, fed 3,000 people lunch and provided more than 600 people with a hot shower.
Although the home exists on a $160,000 annual budget, it does not receive any government funding. In fact, none has ever been applied for, thanks to the kindness of individual donors.
One donor cut a cheque for $60,000 10 years ago, paying off the mortgage on the home, said Edison-Brown.
Thanks to such generosity Edison-Brown is able to count himself as one of the home’s success stories. Others are now business owners, work with youth, one is a lawyer while another man has gone home to help his mother.
“His story is just as important as the others,” Edison-Brown said. “Anyone given a glimmer of hope – that is just a success.”