Miller Time

James Miller is director of content and managing editor of The Herald.

Once upon a time, John, a Penticton man, was addicted “to everything” — alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex.

He credits “90 per cent” of his successful recovery to Pathways Addiction Centre in Penticton for their unique and supportive counselling model.

John’s journey began around 2008. He was homeless and would often sit on a bench outside Pathways to access their wifi for free. He wasn’t destructive or belligerent and was never asked to leave.

Eventually he took staff’s offer up, accepting their challenge and taking counselling. Not much had worked for him in the past.

“I put my life back together because I worked with people who saw me for me and not the way society saw me. Pathways had the tools which in turn allowed me to get the answers I needed,” he said Friday in a phone interview.

Today John is no longer homeless, he’s connected with family and old friends and works as a landscaper. He’s been clean for over a decade. He also gives back to the community, through volunteering and donating food to help feed the homeless.

While his addictions were many, he believes he was mostly addicted to trauma.

When news came this week that Interior Health was pulling the plug on May 31 for funding to Pathways, John felt sick.

“Giving 90 days notice is very irresponsible to the people accessing the services. Clients of Pathways are now fearful. I’m devastated. My heart is broken. It’s (expletive deleted). Pathways saves the taxpayers money. And it’s just not me, they’ve put hundreds of people through there... changed their lives.”

John praises the entire staff at Pathways, specifically naming “Steve” and “Jeannie,” his counsellors and “Wendy,” the first person you meet when you walk through the doors.

Over the years, he’s recommended the services to others. Nobody has ever had a bad experience.

It’s unknown if IH will reconsider. Rather than studying a ledger sheet, perhaps talking with people like John might give the powers to be a greater understanding.

Let me add my name to the huge list of admirers of Rolli Cacchioni, a former teacher, principal and school board trustee who devoted more than 50 years of his life to public education in the Central Okanagan.

I covered several Central Okanagan School Board meetings from 2017-2019 and not only was Rolli one of the best trustees I’ve ever seen in action, his passion for students was obvious.

Might I suggest that if Rutland ever gets a new school that the name be changed to recognize Rolli, a champion for their community.

James Miller is director of content and managing editor of The Penticton Herald. Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca