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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Benyamin Bresinger


This month’s story comes from Lifeline Director Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger, who shares it with the permission of the parties involved.

At Lifeline, my office is on the ground floor, just off the reception area. I get to meet and talk to just about everyone who comes through our doors for help. Sometimes I’ll make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or make a lighthearted joke to break the ice. It’s one of the privileges of working here: getting to see people just as they’re setting out on a challenging journey to reclaim their lives. Their courage takes on many forms, but it is always inspiring to witness.

A few months ago, I was talking with a client who had arrived early for her appointment. As it turned out, she was preparing to go into an inpatient rehab for alcohol addiction. Ninety-eight percent of our clients’ needs can be met with the outpatient (meaning, “non-residential”) counselling that Lifeline offers, but occasionally our clinical team will arrange for a client to go to our affiliate inpatient centre when they determine that it is in the client’s best interest.

As we talked, it came out that she was a single mother. My mind immediately turned to one thing: where was her child in all of this? She told me that her 10-year-old daughter would be staying with her parents for the duration of her stay in rehab, and that “she would be fine.”

I am in no way casting judgment upon this mother, who was summoning all the resources she had in an attempt to heal herself. But in situations like these, with a parent’s strength and mental energy drained by a battle with addiction, the child’s welfare often becomes a secondary consideration. And we can’t allow that to happen. Not when we have the knowledge and experience to make a difference for these kids.

People who have attended our Tuesday Noon Open Speaker Meetings may know that my personal history drives my passion for helping children caught in difficult home situations. In my own family, unfathomable tragedy erupted from my late older brother’s struggles. At the time, there were little to no resources for kids who had no concept of processing this magnitude of pain and loss, and my siblings and I suffered immensely as a result. I know from the core of my being how important it is for children whose home lives are ravaged by addiction and mental health issues to get support so they can go on to live healthy and rewarding lives.

The client’s daughter is currently receiving counselling from our Youth Department. But we know that there are untold scores of kids out there who have no one to advocate for them as they navigate their family’s dysfunction alone. We need to find these children and we need to give them a safe place to heal. Please consider supporting our fundraiser and fuelling our Youth Outreach Initiative, a two-year plan to remove barriers preventing children from receiving the life-saving support they need.

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