June 12, 2014 6:50 am

Moving past homeless: From street to shelter

Homelessness is a problem nearly 2,500 Winnipeggers face on a daily basis.

For many of those, it was never a choice they made; it was a lifestyle they grew up with.

Kevin Anderson has spent a decade living on the streets of Ontario and Manitoba.

One of his earliest memories is being thrown across a table by an intoxicated adult who was with a group of friends drinking.

“I think some of the first memories are memories no child should ever have to have,” said Anderson.

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For years, Anderson turned to alcohol to help numb the pain. He would drink to forget and drink to blackout, all while hoping that when he woke up he could start over.

It wasn’t until he connected with the people at Red Road Lodge that his life started to change.

Red Road Lodge is a 44-room transitional facility providing safe, affordable housing with support service for those struggling with homelessness, mental illness and addiction.

“When people move in to the Red Road Lodge they’ve all been in a state of homelessness because the shelters are all around us,” said Executive Director, Beverly Burkard. “So the first step that we try and do with our programming is help stabilize individuals from a state of homelessness to a state of housed.”

It means helping people with everything from getting identification, medical help to teaching them how to cook and maintain personal hygiene.

The lodge also offers an art program, woodworking and a chance to earn a wage for helping out.

Anderson has become a success in the lodge’s art program.

Instead of picking up a bottle of booze, he now turns to pen and paper and depicts images of his life on the streets.

The moving 10-piece exhibit is being used as a travelling show to help not only open up the discussion about homelessness but to showcase the talents many never knew they had.

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