The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Aug29ThuJust when he'd lost all hope, Danny Crowle found a future at The Salvation Army. August 29, 2013 by Kristin Ostensen
As a shelter worker at The Salvation Army Care and Share Centre in Chilliwack, B.C., Danny Crowle has never been happier. But not too long ago, this job would have been impossible for him.
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Life Without a Future
Eight years ago, Danny underwent open-heart surgery, never imagining that he would wake up with incomplete paraplegia. During the operation, his aorta fell apart and the surgeon could not repair it. With no other options available, the surgeon clamped the aorta, cutting off the blood supply to his spine. Danny's life was saved but at an immense cost.
Paralyzed from the chest down, he spent the next year recovering in the hospital, during which time he regained some of the use of his limbs. Still, he left in a wheelchair, a lifechanging blow for Danny, who was only 19 at the time.
“It was really hard for me,” he says, “being stuck in a wheelchair and not being able to do the things I wanted to do.” Prior to the surgery, he had played many different sports and loved skiing.
He and his family immigrated to Canada from England shortly after he left the hospital. About a year later, after two years in the wheelchair, Danny could finally get around on crutches. He tried to get back to work, first at a gas station and then at a call centre, but neither job could accommodate his disability.
“At that point, I couldn't sit down or stand up for too long,” he recalls. He tried looking for a new job but soon became discouraged.
“It was really hard to find something that would suit my needs,” he says. “I couldn't find any work and eventually I gave up.
“That's when I got really depressed,” he continues. “I would just sit in my room all day, watching TV. I didn't care about my life anymore and I couldn't see a future at all.
“I honestly didn't think that there would be anything that would bring me back from that.”
Danny's mother, Amanda Masters, was worried about him.
“She saw me spiraling down and was quite concerned,” he remembers. “She tried to give me little kicks—'Why don't you try this? Why don't you try that?'—but at that point, I didn't really care. I didn't want to do anything.”
Danny had been off work for about a year when Amanda suggested he try volunteering, a more flexible option than a full-time job.
“I wanted to volunteer with an organization that did a lot of good in the community, and I thought of The Salvation Army,” Danny says. The Care and Share Centre in Chilliwack offers a variety of services, including a food bank, soup kitchen, emergency shelter and youth safe house.
He met with the volunteer co-ordinator at the centre, who suggested he try giving out hampers at the food bank.
“It was good for me because I could sit down and talk with people, but then I also needed to get up and get the hampers for the clients,” Danny says. He started volunteering two days a week in the food bank and three days in the soup kitchen, before switching to five days in the kitchen.
As the weeks went by, a transformation took place. “I felt better about myself when I was helping people,” he says. “I learned how to communicate with people again and, because I was moving around and carrying things, it got easier for me to walk and get up and down.” Today, a year and a half after he came to The Salvation Army, he can do almost any physical activity apart from running.
Danny had been volunteering at the centre for about six months when Ian Pratt, community ministries director, approached him about a job opportunity at the men's emergency shelter. Danny jumped at the opportunity and applied. “When I found out I got the job, I was really happy. It just kind of lit up my whole insides.”
Since last October, Danny has been helping guests at the shelter however he can, whether it's talking with them, making sure they get food or helping them access support services. “Seeing how their lives can change with the help they get from the Army is amazing,” he says.
“I wish there was a way I could repay The Salvation Army for what they've done for me,” he adds. “Before, I was depressed, and now I have a reason to get up every morning. Working for the Army has really changed me and the way I feel about life.
“I'm proud to say that I work here. The more I do this job, the more I want to do it for the rest of my life.”
A Mother's Video Thanks
Seeing her son Danny's life transformed by his work at The Salvation Army, Amanda Masters felt compelled to show her gratitude.
“It brought him back from the brink,” says Amanda. “He's a different person. I wanted to give back in turn.”
So last December, when she found out that donations to the Army were down, she resolved to do something about it.
Just in time for the annual Christmas kettle fundraising campaign, she and her husband, Graham, a webmaster, decided to shoot a professional video showcasing The Salvation Army's good works in the hopes it would give the donations a serious boost.
With Amanda's help, Graham put video images, music, stills and interviews together. Chilliwack personality Trevor McDonald volunteered his narration skills for the voiceover.
The Salvation Army greatly appreciated the Masters' video, which has been viewed more than 600 times.
“ It really showcases what we're doing,” says Ian Pratt, community ministries director at the Care and Share Centre. “It also lets people know how much need is out there in the community.”
—Jennifer Feinberg in The Chilliwack Progress