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Chabad Lifeline Executive Committee Chairman Edward Wiltzer and Executive Committee Member Heleena Wiltzer

Recently, Lifeline alum Matthew and Rabbi Bresinger decided to hold a special presentation for members of our Executive Committee detailing Matthew's incredible journey from a 15-year-old addict to a successful career helping struggling kids.

At an age when many teenagers are focused on school and their social lives, Matthew was lost. Suffering from a learning disability and extreme anxiety, he felt completely invisible, and started abusing drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and make sense of a world where he didn't seem to fit in anywhere.

This could have been just another tragic story. But Matthew showed wisdom and maturity far beyond his years and made a crucial decision. One day in 2009, he traveled by himself for an hour and a half via bus and metro from Montreal Nord to Cote-Des-Neiges to seek out help from Chabad Lifeline.

Once there, he made strong connections with Rabbi Bresinger and Addiction Counsellor Ruth Weinberger, who recognized his sweet nature and sincere desire to get better. Even though his path to sobriety had its peaks and valleys, Matthew maintained these connections, talking regularly with Rabbi B and even helping out with the renovation of the Lifeline building.

Now five years sober, Matthew has become a Special Care Counsellor, helping high school kids with learning difficulties to reach their potential. At first, it was difficult for him to imagine working with teenagers who reminded him of himself during a dark time in his past, but he soon began to forge the same kind of personal connections he developed at Lifeline.

"If you had shown me a video of myself now, I wouldn't have believed it," says Matthew of his younger self. He credits Lifeline with having been a consistent guiding presence throughout this evolution: "Once you become a part of Lifeline, there's always going to be a part of you there.”

Watch the full video presentation here:

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