On December 26, 2008, Dave Crockett stood in an alley, a bottle in one hand and a crack pipe in the other. He had been on the streets of Abbotsford, B.C., for six years, searching for relief from the pain of his past. But today, something was different.
“I decided that was it,” he says. “I looked up and said three words: ‘God help me.’ It’s hard to explain the feeling that came over me. I threw the bottle and pipe to the ground.”
Leaving downtown, he started moving toward the one person who wouldn’t turn him away—his son— and the beginning of a new life.
From Emptiness to Hope
Dave’s stepfather gave him his first drink when he was 13. It quickly became a way to escape problems at home. It wasn’t long before he was kicked out of school, then he bounced in and out of jail. At 18, he served a two-year sentence.
After being released, things turned around—he found a job, got married and started a family. They settled down in Ontario, and Dave stopped drinking. “My life seemed like it was getting back on track,” he says. “For the first time, I didn’t feel alone.”
But a few years later, Dave’s mother died, and then his marriage broke up. He was left on his own with three kids. “I took it pretty hard,” he says. “I blamed myself, and the only place I could find comfort was in a bottle.”
Life as a single parent wasn’t easy. They moved back to British Columbia, but his two daughters decided to return and live with their mother. “It was something I’d regret for the rest of my life,” he says. “They were lost to me for 20 years.”
Although his son stayed with him, Dave’s addiction also took a toll on their relationship. “I wasn’t there for him. He started going astray,” he says. “I blamed myself for that, too. Finally, he went his way and I went mine, and I ended up on the streets.”
When alcohol was no longer enough to mask his feelings of emptiness, he turned to crack. Life became a fight to survive.
Then came the Boxing Day when he realized he needed help and knocked on his son’s door. “Showing up at his place that day, seeing the look of disappointment on his face for missing Christmas … it woke something in me that I thought I had lost forever,” he says. “Hope came rushing back and hit me like a bolt of lightning.”
Dave stayed with his son until he could enter treatment. “I’d been there before, but for all the wrong reasons,” he says. “This time, I was ready to do whatever it took to stay clean and sober. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, but I also knew I wasn’t alone.”
After completing treatment, Dave moved into the supportive independent living program at The Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Abbotsford. “It was a safe place to start rebuilding my life,” he says. “I had structure and a sense of purpose.”
At first, he kept to himself, but then he started attending devotions. “After my mother died, I gave up on God,” he says. “I turned my back on Him, but He led me where I needed to go. Being here opened my eyes to how much I need Him in my life. Now, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t talk to God.”
Dave also started volunteering at the Salvation Army thrift store. Once he finished the program and moved back into the community, it turned into a full-time job. That’s where he met Sharon Moyls, a clerk in the store.
Wow, Dave thought, I could never end up with a woman like that.
Although he thought Sharon was beautiful, he also sensed her kindness. “Just the way she talked to me,” he says. “She’s non-judgmental, funny, caring—she’s a joy to be around.”
They became friends and, in time, starting dating.
“He was very open with me,” says Sharon. “He likes to say he’s from the wrong side of the tracks, but he’s loving and kind, and I couldn’t be happier than I am with him. He just makes me glow.”
Dave lights up when talking about Sharon, too. “When I’m with her, I feel like nothing could bother me, because I have her,” he says. “I knew we were meant to be together.”
Sharon has brought many positive changes to Dave’s life, showing him how to budget, encouraging him to get his driver’s licence back and helping him build a relationship
with his daughters, who recently made contact with him.
She has also stirred his sense of adventure. “I love the fact that Dave’s open to trying new things,” Sharon says. “I’m quite a little daredevil, so I’ve convinced him to go hang-gliding and river-rafting and we went to the top of Whistler by gondola. Next year, we’re supposed to go skydiving.”
In 2015, Dave proposed while they were at a beach. “She wanted to walk way out, so we walked until we couldn’t go any farther,” he says. “I looked at her, pulled the ring out and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ ”
Although they’d talked about it before, it was always “When the time’s right.” “
So that’s what I was expecting,” Dave continues. “But she said yes.”
Dave and Sharon plan to get married this February 17, five years after their first date.
“I love my life now,” Dave says. “I’m looking forward to being married and I enjoy every day working at The Salvation Army. It’s a blessing to be part of an organization that puts hope back into people’s lives—as they did with mine.”