Leslie Buller knows firsthand just how quickly life can be turned upside down. A proud mother and grandmother to four children, Leslie found herself living a life of chaos shortly after her father passed away.
“I was on crack cocaine. I basically lived from house to house. You never knew where you were going to lay your head,” Leslie says.
Her addiction cost Leslie her family. That’s when she knew she had to get clean. She carried pictures of her grandchildren while she was on the street; they were the only personal item she had.
“Seeing those eyes through the picture was the biggest motivator because I was missing out on the best years of their lives,” she says.
Leslie, who receives financial assistance from Ontario Works, began participating in the Addictions Services Initiative (ASI) — a program that offers a support network to clients, and links them to services and supports available in the community. In addition to helping clients overcome their addictions, the goals of ASI are increased employability, self sufficiency and improved self-esteem.
ASI Intensive Case Managers provide clients with information about programs offered in the Chatham-Kent area, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. Case managers can also help clients get into treatment programs, such as detox, that are offered in their area. Clients who have difficulty getting transportation to meetings are provided with bus passes and/or travel money.
For Leslie, attending one-on-one counselling through the Chatham-Kent Mental Health Unit helped her overcome her addiction. “I found out why I was using,” she says.
In addition to attending meetings and counselling, Leslie also took part in the Chatham-Kent Ontario Works Square One program.
“This is a life skills program where we try to reintroduce people back into the services in their community,” says Jennifer Crowell-Jay, Leslie’s Intensive Case Manager.
Through Square One, clients are able to participate in programs such as Dress for Success, which provides them with personal items and work attire that they may need.
With the help and support provided through the ASI program, Leslie has been able to overcome her addiction and reconnect with her family. Jennifer says she has seen real changes in Leslie.
“I’ve seen her self-esteem skyrocket,” she explains. “She recognizes that she’s a valuable member of our community.” Leslie is looking at attending college to become a 911 operator, and is also trying to attain full-time employment. With her addiction behind her and with the renewed support of her family, Leslie is back in control of her life and has much to look forward to.