Well guess who is back? How is everyone today? I would like to talk about one of our guest speakers that we have had recently named Dean Wilson. Mr. Wilson is a very motivating man if not for speaking engagements then for his actions in the world of harm reduction. He has been a mogul for the addict of the Downtown East Side for years (DTES). Not to mention he has spent a lot of years down there using drugs and not knowing which way to turn. He is a large part of all the harm reduction programs on the DTES and it is amazing the following that he has. What better way to find solutions to a problem than to have first-hand experience on the issues at hand. We all have to remember that no one chooses this lifestyle, Dean’s brother went to Vietnam and came back wired with a new toy (heroin) for his younger brother Dean to play with so it wasn’t long before Dean was wired as well. Dean was a single father dealing with his issues and functioning quite well. When his children grew up and no longer needing him the way they did when they were younger he became lost in cocaine and his real troubles then started (not that heroin isn’t a significant problem) he just started to lose control. The ability to function for him became tougher. I have to say it was great to see him in our classroom. The passion and dedication that he has is absolutely phenomenal and I admire him very much.
I mentioned in my last blog that my next IPE was at a place on Cordova Street called DURC (Drug User’s Resource Center) which is basically a community center for drug users, alcoholics and homeless people to spend their time constructively. Dean Wilson is the supervising coordinator at DURC and I have done 2 shifts there since the blog and I was hoping to be able to talk to him a little more but unfortunately he does not work on the day that I do my IPE’s but hopefully we will cross paths in the 6 weeks I have remaining there. I can see everything he stands for reflected in DURC with the programs and activities that have been made available to people of the DTES. Acupuncture, hydration and First Nations Sacred Space (I will tell you more about this in a future blog), they serve breakfast and lunch daily and people can do laundry. Laundry? At a community center? I know it sounds unusual but from what I have seen it works. The best thing about this is that all the programs pay a $3 voucher for a discount store called Quest so a lot of users and homeless come to these programs to stay off the streets and learn how to get money in legitimate ways. It really is quite an amazing place and Dean Wilson is the heart at the center of it. This is what makes Mr. Wilson easy to admire. Progress, care, passion and a never give up attitude, the best qualities a human being could have.
When he was done speaking he left in somewhat of a hurry and I had a few more questions to ask. (Instructors probably dread me as my hand goes up in class a lot, not from not understanding just sheer curiosity) Class was going for break so I darted out after him and I got to ride the elevator down with him and I’m not sure that I even shut up long enough for him to answer any single question I had. I felt like a teenager getting to meet a rock star, it was quite amusing to think of how I probably looked to others. I know I would surely laugh at me. I guess the point is I share in this passion and to get to meet with an icon to the community face to face was a special experience. He has an energy that just rubs off on you and makes you really see what it is that he is trying to get across. Harm reduction, empathy and help, that’s the message and I can’t wait to start my life helping because I know I care. We all can take a lesson from Mr. Wilson’s playbook. Until next time faithful readers (I stole that from Stephen King) please take care of yourselves and be good to one another because one another is all we truly have. Peace.