The Garden of Wayside

Wayside Stories

 

Rob's Story

“Tell me, Rob, how has The Wayside Chapel helped you?” This is a question I have been asked over a hundred times since my involvement with Wayside and I always answer, “If it was not for Wayside I would not be alive today”. This is no exaggeration of the truth. I was truly at a low point in my life when I first came to The Wayside Chapel and spoke to Graham in April 2010. A few weeks prior to this I had attempted to take my life by gassing myself in my car, only to be saved by one of my homeless friends. I spent the next three weeks recovering in Carritas House at St Vincent’s Hospital. Living on the streets of Kings Cross is where I had found myself.


When I came to Wayside, Graham and I sat down in the old Chapel and it was here I poured my heart out to him. I wanted to end it all; end the drinking and pot smoking; end the rut I had been living for the last couple of months. I was living a life I could no longer accept. I had hit rock bottom. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Graham or how he and Wayside could help me. I remember clearly Graham assuring me that I had made the first and most difficult move by admitting where I was at and that I needed to make a change. Our conversation ended by Graham praying for me and my three daughters, who had I had no contact with because of the life I had chosen to live.


Fast forward to nine months later and I was living in a “palace” - a studio apartment in Newtown – and my rent was paid for by a “Wayside angel”. My angel paid for all the furniture - brand new! I got a fantastic job with a great company as a trainer. I was spending my weekends Wayside cooking meals for the café. I was in my element. My life had been portrayed on stage in a theater play called “Stories from the Wayside”. It focused on my past and my involvement at Wayside. During this time I also reconciled with my brother and his teenage son who I had not spoken to for over a year.
My job as a trainer ended in October due to unforeseen circumstances. This was a big blow to my life and my daughters’ lives because I had reconciled with two of my three daughters and was able to support them where possible. Having lost my job, I dreaded the thought of things going backwards for me. I didn’t want to face unemployment again or the chance of losing contact with my daughters or losing the independence I had found during this time. I was afraid, empty and delusional. Without hesitation I contacted Graham, a move which set off the next couple of months which involved the greatest support I have ever known. The staff, and I mean ALL the staff, at Wayside encouraged and supported me and assured me that I would find another job. I had no doubt that I was in the right place. I was invited to work as a volunteer Wayside whenever I wanted to. I did anything - data entry, filing paperwork, cooking, working at the front desk and working the café.


With the help of staff, I was able to update my resume to include my recently obtained qualifications. I could also use the computers in the Day to Day Living program to apply for employment and very soon afterwards I was attending interviews across Sydney. Staff were on the internet locating the addresses where I was to be interviewed and helped me determine the best possible mode of transport I should use to get there.


During this time I continued volunteering at Wayside during the week and on weekends; an opportunity I would always cherish. Volunteering was the reason I never lost my mind or returned to the old ways. I met volunteers I would not have met if I was only working on the weekends and these fantastic people supported me, encouraged me daily and gave me the confidence to be positive and not to give up. I will always remember the conversations I had with each staff member and volunteer during this challenging time.


Not long ago, I woke up and felt truly down. I had no desire to get out of bed. The thought of being unemployed the third Christmas in a row, of not having the opportunity to spend Christmas with my daughters and of not being able to do Christmas shopping for them and friends was something that truly got to me. Christmas was only a few days away and I could not inspire myself to be cheerful. It was so bad I would switch off the television so I didn’t have to hear the Christmas advertisements or talks of Christmas. I remained at home the whole day.


The following day I knew I had to go to Wayside. When I arrived, I met with one of the staff members who I confide in often. Immediately she makes me feel better. Honestly, just having someone who listens (and I mean truly listens) to you is very important and of great help. I then went upstairs looking for the one person who has been my rock. “Hi Graham”, I said, as this is how I would always greet Graham no matter how many times we bump into each other during the day. No matter how busy Graham is on his Mac, he always turns around and gives me that big smile and “Hey big fella” response. I told Graham about how I was feeling about Christmas and he never said any miracle words or focused on the issue but Graham, being who he is, has a way of making you feel that it is what it is. Graham started talking about something positive and immediately my self-indulgence is gone and we are laughing and chatting. I leave our conversation feeling on top of the world and off to do some work somewhere in Wayside.


I was at the Day to Day Living area greeting the staff and visitors when my phone rang. It was HR person who had interviewed me for a position I had attended an interview for the previous week. “Hi Robert, I just wanted to call you and congratulate you on successfully obtaining the position as Trainer/Advisor/Consultant, commencing in late January. We look forward to you joining our team”.


Oh wow…wow…I had just got the job I truly wanted! I could not console myself. I told everyone in Day to Day Living and everyone was so happy for me that they were hugging me and shaking my hand. Smiles were on everyone’s face, from staff to visitors. I headed upstairs where I found Graham and heading to his desk I said “Graham, Graham I got the job”. He answered with his magical laugh “Hahahahahahahahahhahaahhahaha”. We embraced and laughed and laughed. Staff came from their offices across the hallway because they knew immediately that something great had just occurred. Wow! It was such a magical moment. I felt as if I was in heaven. The love I felt and the happiness I saw on their faces was for me. WOW! WOW! This is Wayside! After all the congratulations and the hugs and kisses from all the staff throughout the building I called my brother. WOW! He was so happy. I felt so cared for and loved. I called everyone I knew and again I felt the happiness from whoever I spoke to.


I hope this brief explanation gives you a better understanding of how The Wayside Chapel has helped me. I am, as Graham would put it, “rich”. Yes, I am very “rich” with all the love and support that is bestowed on me from all who visit at The Wayside Chapel.

Thank you my dear friends,
Rob Holt

 

Photo of Rob by Cynthia Sciberras.

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