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Dream Centre an Answer to Prayer
He looked in the mirror at his shrunken frame. He didn't recognize the man. He had lost his soul to cocaine.

Marvin Crellin was desperate for money. His uncle had frozen his bank account and the 40-year-old welder needed to get his hands on some cash quickly. He had to score more crack cocaine.

He met his uncle at one of Calgary’s Boston Pizza restaurants. When his uncle saw him, Crellin said, "He started to cry." Although his uncle bought Crellin supper, he refused to give him money.

That night when Crellin returned to his dingy basement suite, he looked in the mirror at his shrunken 150-pound frame. He didn’t recognize the man who had served ten years in the Canadian Armed Forces. His face was jaundiced and his complexion greenish. There were dark circles under his eyes from not sleeping for weeks at a time while he was using crack.

"For the first time I really looked at myself," Crellin said. "I looked into my own eyes and I couldn’t see my soul anymore."

Crellin’s voice breaks as he admitted, "That was my bottom. I had nothing. I got on my knees and asked God to help me."

Although Crellin had tried to kick his habit numerous times he had never been able to stay clean. He had been accepted at the Calgary Dream Centre (CDC), but when he didn’t follow their program, staff at the addiction treatment facility and transitional housing complex suspended him.

That night, after asking God for help, he began walking to the Renfrew Recovery Detoxification Centre at 3:30 in the morning. Four hours later he arrived to find 18 people waiting for the four available beds.

"I was the first one accepted," Crellin said. "That’s when I was given a second chance.

After seven days Crellin was clean. Then he went to the CDC once again, asking them to work with him.

"If (staff member) Gary Carmichael wouldn’t have taken a second chance and let me come back, I don’t where I would have been," Crellin said. "The Dream Centre was instrumental in my recovery."

Crellin stayed at the CDC for almost a year. He worked through their programs and was eventually hired by them as an occupational staff support worker. But he said the defining moment came when Carmichael baptized him at First Assembly Church.

When Crellin stepped in the baptismal tank he suddenly forgot his testimony. Carmichael, sensing something was wrong, asked him, "Why have you come here?"

Crellin replied, "For 40 years I’ve walked in the darkness and now I choose to walk in the light."

For Crellin and hundreds of other men, the CDC has been an answer to prayer. When Crellin came back to visit this past August, he was cradling his newborn baby boy in his arms.

"The Spirit of God lives in the Dream Centre," said Jim Moore CDC’s executive director. "It is really a God-centered home."

Helping men to conquer their addictions and enabling them to transition successfully off the streets and become productive members of society is what the CDC does. In its six-year history, the CDC has an astonishing success rate. Over 75 percent of the men that go through their program do not return to their former life on the streets.

For more information call 403-243-5598 or visit the Calgary Dream Centre website.

Doris Fleck is a writer based in Calgary, Alberta.

Originally published in City Light News, September 2009.

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