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  • Chabad Lifeline

"A COLLECT CALL FROM 1976"

Updated: Jun 27




This month's story comes courtesy of Rabbi Bresinger, who was inspired by a recent meeting with a Lifeline client to share a powerful piece of his own personal history.


One of the great joys of my job as Director is getting to meet clients and hearing how Lifeline is helping them. Recently, I talked with a man named Adam whose 25-year-old daughter struggled with cocaine. He told me that Family Counselling while his daughter is seeing an Addiction Counsellor and his description of Lifeline’s services is exactly the kind of thing I want to hear:


“This place is like one big hug.”


As we talked more, Adam said something that struck a chord with me: he told me that the hardest thing he had to learn was to support his daughter without feeding into her problem. 


I wasn’t expecting to open up to him about my own story, which involves my older brother’s struggles with mental health issues and substance use as a teen and young adult. To be honest, it brought up aspects of the story that I hadn’t thought about in some time. 


I remembered how my parents received a collect call one night from my brother, who had ended up in jail out west. At this stage, he was unable to acknowledge that he needed help, even as his behaviour became more and more erratic.


I remembered how my parents had sought the advice of professionals and how they had been advised to not capitulate to my brother’s demands, that this would not help him get better.


I remembered my parents finding the strength to not accept that call, despite the terror they felt, despite how much they wanted to drop everything and go to him right then. And the strength to hold out as he continued to call throughout the night.


And I remembered how the power of their stand was what finally made my brother realize he needed real help.


I am very grateful that my brother was able to get back on track and live a normal, happy life until his passing. And as I sat there with Adam, I felt a similar shade of gratitude knowing that our team has the knowledge and experience to help him and his daughter weather the storm. 


Really being there for the people you love requires a leap of faith. You have to give up the idea that you have control over someone else’s life, that you are responsible for their happiness, and it can be terrifying. But this is all the more remarkable because it is so difficult to do. And when that faith is rewarded with the health, safety, and happiness of someone you love very much, it is nothing short of miraculous. 


*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved, as the story was adapted after being told to a Lifeline staff member with permission to share. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Adam and his daughter immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.

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