My name is Lisa Torikka. I am 40 years old and grew up in a small town in British Columbia. I had several tragic events happen to me at a very young age and at 26 my life started to go sideways.
I started using and selling drugs, eventually lost my apartment and have lived on the streets of the downtown east side for the last ten years. I've been in and out of jail several times. While incarcerated, I would use the time to work on my education, specifically cooking. During the last two years that I was there I started doing Bible Studies, focusing on God and my healing. Then a friend told me about The Gateway of Hope. I went through the admissions process and I was accepted! Praise the Lord!
During my interview I asked about the Cooks Training Program and it just so happened to coincide with the completion of my sentence. Now I had my focus and a place to live; all the things that I was missing the other times I was released.
Since becoming a resident at The Gateway of Hope amazing things have happened. I have so much support that it is overwhelming to think that these people care about me and are helping me become the woman that God wants me to be. Without God in my life I would have gone back to my old lifestyle, but He makes me want to be better.
My Opportunities Program Advisor has given me immeasurable support. Our weekly meetings help me stay motivated, focused and on task. She is always quick to point out all the positive things that I am doing to help me move forward in my life.
The Gateway of Hope has saved my life. It has given me direction that I would not have had otherwise. The staff are incredibly supportive and I owe a lifetime of gratitude to everyone who works there. When my time here is done I plan to continue my journey with them, whatever that may look like.
Thank you and God bless each and every one of you.