The Mustard Seed helps man find community, home in Calgary

A once homeless man has been able to get his life back on track and as Deb Matejicka reports, he’s been able to give back, all thanks to the Mustard Seed.

Nearly three years ago, Gary Wise came to the decision that he needed to make a major change in his life.

Unable to work and suffering from debilitating panic attacks, the now 64-year-old knew he needed a change in scenery too.

“Everything was exploding in Red Deer and I couldn’t understand because I was used to small Red Deer instead of big Red Deer,” Wise said.

Wise had grown up in the area but had left several years before to work in the oil patch.

After suffering a serious injury while working on an oil rig, Wise said he “wandered around down in the States and up in Canada” for the better part of a decade.

He eventually returned to Red Deer but said he never seemed to get his life back on track.

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Eventually, he sought out help from the Mustard Seed in Red Deer and through the local charitable organization, Wise was directed to Calgary.

“I fell in love. I’ve been here for two and a half years now,” said Wise.

“They’re here to help you. They’re here to get you on the right track and stay on the right track the best way they can.”

For Wise, getting on to the “right track” has meant getting the help and support he needs for both the physical and psychological issues he’s dealt with through much of his adult life.

“[The] biggest thing is — Mustard Seed is there to help people, not as a number. They’re here to help person-to-person if they can. And that’s what some of these people do need,” he said.

As it turned out, it was exactly what Wise himself needed.

Andrew Gusztak is the manager of Volunteer Services at the Mustard Seed and was one of the first people to meet Gary.

“He was a fairly solid guy. He just needed to get his legs under him or so to speak,” Gusztak said.

“He came in really caring for the other guests, for people who experienced things that he did”, he said.

“Community for him has been a big thing. I think Gary is extroverted. He likes being around people, he likes being helpful.”

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Wise is now not only a resident of the Mustard Seed but he also serves as one of its thousands of volunteers.

“There’s enough activity for all of us to get involved with but you’ve got to be willing to do it,” Wise said.

‘It’s worked out here really good,” he said.