My Marathon of Life: A First Steps to Employment Project Story

My name is Mitchell Neal Richard, and below is a little bit of my story. I’ve been overcome by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m a former alcoholic who struggled with additional issues such as anger and emotional dependency in intimate relationships. All these were among a few of the flaws that were connected to some deep wounds in my life. What those wounds were did not become clear to me, until I faced myself honestly and courageously considering the adverse impact that those wounds had in my life. It took a whole lot of guts to get my recovery right, but thanks be to God, I’ve been blessed with abstinence and growth since my last drink of alcohol over seven years ago.

Back in the days, alcohol was a predominant force of evil in my life, because after every drink, it only dug a deeper and darker pit of suffering and despair. No matter how hard I would try to quit drinking (even after painful and devastating consequences), I would still eventually end up getting wasted again. It became obvious to me, even before turning 18, that alcohol was a big problem for me. It got me in trouble with the law; it caused me to drop out of school; lose a few jobs by either calling in sick too many times; and sadly, showing up at work under the influence of alcohol. It even destroyed some relationships that I had. Alcohol was destroying ME.

As much as I would try to stay sober I would eventually end up drinking again within a couple of months, only this time after screwing up and relapsing, I always had God to go to who would welcome me with open arms, love me unconditionally, and accept me. As a Christian, I was under the impression, that all I had to do to live a happy and successful life was read my Bible daily, pray, attend Church regularly, and share my faith with others. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of those practices are wrong. In fact, I would highly encourage every Christian to do so. But here’s the thing, I was not being honest with myself because I was fearful about being transparent to others about the nitty gritty of what was really going on inside me (the pain and wounds I was still carrying from my past), and my lack of honesty and fear about that, was a huge hindrance for me to progress in living a sober, healthy, and successful life. This is what I yearned for so much, I just wanted to be happy, but at a much deeper level, I was not happy with myself.

When I was 16 years old, I dropped out of high school, because I valued alcohol above Collage for Mitchelleducation. I thought I connected with people better when I was drinking, and alcohol soothed a lot of pain that I was carrying. After some years, I knew education was important, but I failed in obtain my grade 12 numerous times. Alcohol would get in the way of education and growth and other excuses that served nothing more than immediate gratification but didn’t help me in the long run. Some of the challenges I faced to obtain my mature grade 12 were related to being overwhelmed with all the school work, a lack of being organized, not managing my time properly, and being absent from class too many times. And I wasn’t that motivated either. My former addiction to alcohol would not become stabilized until I took my recovery seriously, and that initial event did not happen until the summer of 2011.

You see, what I failed to see before getting clean and sober, is that my addiction to alcohol was not the problem, I was the problem, because the addiction (as well as other unhealthy compulsive behaviours that I exhibited in my life) was symptomatic of deeper problems. By the grace of God, aministry called Finding Freedom has helped me so much to be where I am today, in not only abstaining from drinking alcohol, but in healing from my emotional wounds, providing me with invaluable tools and life skills,hence, the help I really needed to grow as a healthier individual.

Tim Fletcher from Finding Freedom taught a lot of great stuff on recovery, addiction, and so forth, he was also very big on helping people to be grounded in:

  1. healthy relationships,
  2. being grounded in a support network

These are two key ingredients to make it in recovery, because if you have all the head knowledge and education about recovery and addiction, but still lack these two key ingredients, you’ll likely not have a successful recovery.

After attending Finding Freedom on a consistent weekly basis, I learned, healed, and grew so much. I am now able to go about living my life sober, healthy, happy, and accurately. Among a few important things I’ve learned, was how to heal from shame (which was a core belief I had about myself for many years), how to enforce healthy boundaries, how to respond appropriately when life gets overwhelming, the importance of being in community with healthy friendships, and the role that trauma has in an addict/alcoholics life.

I was literally an orphan with no healthy parental figures (I was pretty much on my own at age 14). Because both parents left me at a young age, learning to parent myself in a healthy way was something that I really needed to learn. It was a very challenging task, because I had to unlearn and relearn a lot of stuff, but it was very well worth it.

When I returned to school at Adult Education Center Inc. (AEC) 2 years ago, I decided to take the longer route in working towards graduating, because Math was the subject I struggled with the most, and I wanted to only take Math one semester at a time, until I got it out of way. I was being honest and realistic with myself, and did that pay off? It sure did, because in January 2018, I finally got my Grade 12 Applied Math Credit. I was very proud of myself for this achievement, but it didn’t end there, because after passing the other necessary courses,I got my entire Mature Grade 12 Diploma. The determination, faith, and consistency to get through this milestone paid off. I was so happy.

In March of 2018, I moved into Place of Hope and started with the 1st Steps to Employment Project. This new living environment has helped me tremendously to reach my educational goals. The staff have been very supportive, understanding, and helpful. I am appreciative, thankful, and blessed by the structure, and the clean and sober living environment provided at Place of Hope. I always enjoy the conversations I have with the staff, the laughs, and the company they provide. Crystal, the 1st Steps employment social worker, has been an amazing resource in helping me stay focused, and advance my education. She’s an amazing worker here at Place of Hope (for that matter, all the staff are). They always make sure I’m doing well. God has blessed me with an amazing support network to keep me moving forward.

I’ve achieved one of my educational goals while living here at Place of Hope, however, my future educational goal, is to get my Bachelors of Social Work at the University of Manitoba, and in time, get my Masters in the same faculty. I am currently registered to take Social Work at the University of Manitoba, and I’m sure, by the grace of God, that it will all work out. Back in June of 1995, my mother got her Social Work Diploma from the same University, but unfortunately, she passed on the next month, July 31st, 1995. Because my mom did not get to live out her career, I feel it is nearing my time to take the mantle of what she didn’t get to do, and live out her legacy, but in my own way. My mother was the kind of woman who would always see the good in every person.

Seeing that I am also a full marathon runner, another golden goal of mine, is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This has been a goal of mine since I started running full marathons 4 years ago, and I’m going to keep at it until I achieve this goal. To me, running is a form of self-care, I always feel better after I go for a run, it is a form therapy for me. Through running, I use what I apply in my marathon training (consistency, determination, discipline, etc.), to my daily life in all that I do. In the words of an Olympian track runner, Allyson Felix, “I have learned that track doesn’t define me. My faith defines me. I’m running because I have been blessed with a gift.” I love that quote, and it is the same that goes for me, running does not define me, it is gift that God has blessed me with to glorify Him.

To me, recovery, education, running (exercise), having fun, and Jesus Christ, are all highly valued components in my life. I believe that an essential component to living a healthy lifestyle, is balance. Embracing growth in all areas of our lives,not all at once, but one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at time. The process of growth is often challenging, painful, and messy, but well worth it.

I always try my best to see the good in all people and in all circumstances, and it is my desire to motivate, inspire, empower, and help other people in whatever way I can, to move forward in life. I always enjoy sharing my story, volunteering, and helping in the Ministry.


This fall, Winnipeg Inner City Missions is participating in the Ride for Refuge, a non-competitive bicycling and walking fundraiser with locations across Canada. cover_2 We’re joining with hundreds of other charitable partners like us who care for displaced, vulnerable and exploited people. Our goal is to raise $8,000 for our projects that provide housing, employment, and support to children and families in Winnipeg. To accomplish our goal, we’re looking for:

  • 4-8 Team Captains (of all shapes, sizes and stages) to recruit 6-8 friends and raise a minimum of $2000 per team
  • Of course, we’re also looking for a whole pile of riders and walkers to join our teams and help us raise this critical $8,000

Donate or join a team today

Click Here Now to Participate

Will you join us? We need you! What could be better than all of us squeezing into our spandex and sweating together while raising money for Winnipeg Inner City Missions?

Your participation in the Ride for Refuge provides support to Winnipeg Inner City Missions. Financial support is vital for our programs.  It provides activities for children and youth. Our children and youth learn about nutrition, go on outings and discover the world beyond their neighborhood and they get assistance with homework to ensure academic success. Guardians and parents receive coaching and supports to learn and play with their preschool child. Your enthusiasm demonstrates to adults in our 1st Steps to Employment Project that people do care about their success in life!


Your donation is super important too! We rely on people who understand that our programs need funds. You help a child see a world beyond a neighborhood where violence, abuse of drugs and alcohol are prevalent. Your donation gives an adult a chance to live in a safe home and environment that supports him/her to achieve success in relationships, finances and academics. Your financial support means that we can operate our buildings, provide care and compassion to those who are feeling vulnerable and who want to and can be successful!

Thank you for riding or walking with us!

10th Anniversary of APOH

10-Years-in-BusinessOn October 19th, 2017 Winnipeg Inner City Missions celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Anishinabe Place of Hope (APOH), located in the Centennial/Logan North Neighborhood in Winnipeg, is a First Steps to Employment Project with transitional housing unit for single adults age 30-50 who are seriously focused on obtaining employment with a livable income. APOH provides a safe, supportive, drug and alcohol-free environment. Those accepted into the Project live in one of 19 bachelor suites for a period of 3-5 years while they pursue training/education that will give them better opportunities for employment.

In addition to the Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Margaret Mullin, there are two social workers who provide guidance and support to the residents. It has been demonstrated clearly that clean, safe and affordable housing in addition to being surrounded by professionals who can act as mentors, provides a winning combination for individuals, families and the community at large.

Helpful volunteers from Saint John’s Presbyterian Church, Westwood Presbyterian Church, Prairie Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church, Kildonan Community Church, Knox Presbyterian Church Selkirk, and all those who made donations & to those who took  the time to come visit us today made our Anniversary a success.



WICM is a not-for-profit charitable organization committed to providing a healthy community for children, youth and families living in Winnipeg’s Inner City.

 Let God Be God: Give Control to the Only One Who Can Set You Free is a new book by Matthew Brough, the minister of Prairie Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg. Available on Amazon, all of the proceeds from the book are being split equally between Winnipeg Inner City Missions and the Kenora Fellowship Centre. Consider picking up a copy and spreading the word about this opportunity to send some support to WICM.


The North End of Winnipeg is a challenging environment for families trying to raise their children to stay out of the gangs and away from drugs, alcohol and negative influences. This is why our organization focuses on healing and reconciliation, poverty reduction, access to equal opportunities, striving towards excellent education standards and encouraging our children and youth towards higher learning and safe living.

We believe together we can heal and grow while creating a safe and healthy community for all.



Organization: Winnipeg Inner City Missions is a faith-based organization that values both Christian and Indigenous religious and world views. Our mission is to embrace all people in Winnipeg’s inner city and inspire life-long learning and build social and personal well-being.

Job Title: WICM Child/Youth Worker for After School Programs Assistant

Job Summary:     Our Children and Youth programs include an afterschool program for children and youth ages 6-14 living in the North End of Winnipeg. We require a compassionate, energetic, committed Program Assistant to join our team. He/she will develop positive relationships with the WICM staff, immediate supervisor and the children and youth who attend the programs. We are looking for someone who loves to interact with children and youth; can plan and prepare activities; initiates clean up and involves children and youth in daily activities.

This is an afterschool program with afternoon and evening work hours, Monday to Thursday.

Supervised by:    After-School Program Co-ordinator who collaborates with the Executive Director on supervision

Works with: The Child/Youth Worker works collaboratively with other Program Assistants. As well, the Child/Youth worker maintains relationships with off-site WICM employees

Job Duties, Responsibilities and Essential Functions: Comes to work on time. Remains until all children/youth are home safely, and the building is clean, tidy and secure

Adheres to all Provincially legislated mandates regarding the well being of children such as the Child Welfare Act of Manitoba as well as the Presbyterian Church in Canada and WICM policies and procedures. As well, the Child and Family Services Act of Manitoba and in Privacy legislation such as the Freedom of Information and Personal Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)

Maintains and fosters positive relationships with program participants and their care providers

Must have computer skills with proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office bundle of programs and be able to use office equipment such as telephones, facsimile.

Will carry out job tasks in a collaborative and team focused manner

Will use positive discipline methods; is firm yet loving

Will be physically fit and will interact and play with children/youth in a variety of settings (enjoys swimming, baseball, gyms, being outside in the winter for activities such as skating, sliding etc.)

Will share in the planning of activities offering ideas with a willingness to lead

Make sure that healthy snacks (based on Canada Food Guide) are prepared for children in compliance with Food Handling policies and that food is distributed to all participants being aware of the potential for food allergies

Pick up children at their schools; settle, direct and manage children as they come to Flora House and while they are participating in programs; use peaceful conflict resolution

Ensure and support children while they are doing their activities by constantly moving from child to child; will encourage and assist children with homework; challenge them to do and be their best

Must be able to recognize when children are having trouble or are presenting as struggling with problems

Ensure that all children are safely put into vans and accounted for when transporting children to and from activities that take place away from Flora House;ensure the safety of all children according to WICM policy and all Provincial Laws and regulations

Will clean the facilities including kitchen, bathrooms, floors in compliance with health code standards


College Certificate in Early Childhood Education (ECEII, III) or Youth Care Diploma from a recognized College or University or at least 5 years relevant experience (minimum High School Diploma and children and youth experience)

Valid Food Handling, Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, 1st Aide, required

Class 4 Drivers License an asset or willing to get one; Must be able to operate a motor vehicle in the province of Manitoba according to all applicable Highway Traffic Act and Safety legislation

Must Have a Criminal Records Check and a Child Abuse Registry

Must have proven organizational and communication skills

Must have knowledge of what it means to be a supervisor

Additional Knowledge an Asset

An understanding of the effects of colonization on the indigenous people in Manitoba and specifically how this effects the children and families who WICM provides services too. Included in the effects of colonization are the ongoing effects of the Residential School experience on indigenous people, families and communities, the impacts of a marginalized history within the Criminal Justice, Child Welfare and Health systems that exist within Manitoba

An understanding of both Christian and Indigenous spiritual values, beliefs and practices including the teachings found within the Bible, the Indigenous Medicine Wheel and the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Anishinabe

An understanding of cognitive, behavioural and mental health challenges such as ADD, ADHD, ODD, CDD, FASD, Attachment Disorder, Depression, substance abuse, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among may others as they impact the children families and community that WICM provides services to; issues around substance abuse, child protection, gang culture and economic, political, social and spiritual marginalization.

Position start date: mid-September

Please send a cover letter and resume to: Ruth Magnuson, Executive Director at by September 4th at 4:00pm. Late resumes will not be accepted. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.


From Under the Influence to Well-Being and Employment: Transformation is taking place at Place of Hope

My name is Edwin Romero. I am 39 years old, a current resident at Place of Hope, and part of the 1st Steps to Employment Program. I am in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse and have been sober for over 4 years now.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Place of Hope and the wonderful people who work here. They are helping to make great changes in those who wish to better their lives. Thank you Crystal, Susan, Rev. Margaret and Ida.

I recently graduated from CDI College in the field of Addiction and Community Service Worker, a 16 month full time course.

I have been living at Place of Hope since August 2015 which is when I started at CDI College. I was so happy to be in a safe and sober place through my early recovery years. This environment has been the key to my success in completing my secondary education and also in staying clean and sober. I have no words to express how grateful I feel to be at Place of Hope.

42332886-BC71-4EC6-B5E3-C5A48FF8B435 (1)I made a mistake when I left Place of Hope in April 2017. I was not ready to leave. I was accepted back 10 days after I left. I don’t know where I’d be now if Susan had not offered those keys to my suite; if Crystal had not been checking in on me and; if Rev. Margaret had not approved my re-entry. We have a great community here that’s well organized. Their support while I was in school was so helpful. My first language is Spanish, academics were not easy for me and learning English was hard. Sometimes, Susan brought food right to my door. Crystal was there to listen to me and empower me during my times of frustration.

The staff understand that we make terrible mistakes yet help us to turn our lives around. Ten years ago, I got a DUI (driving under influence) following a staff Christmas party and some other police charges that put me in the Criminal Record loop. Finding a job has not been easy because of this. I was addicted to alcohol.

I have since completed the full addictions recovery course and got my driver’s license back. With the support of staff, I am in the process to remove my criminal record. I graduated in June 2017 from a CDI and I have a job at the front desk of a Winnipeg motel. I have been transformed.

We need programs like this in our community! I thank all the donors and people who contribute to  Place of Hope and the 1st Steps to Employment Program. To have a better society, we need the place and time to deal with underlying issues. Thank you for the opportunity to do this in my life!

-Edwin Romero Flores


The positive change in behaviour and confidence levels seen in the children and youth in our programs is one of the biggest motivational factors to insure these programs continue to exist. Brad Calder and Nicole Langlois run our Children’s Program (ages 6-10), Youth Program (ages 10-14) and the Summer Day Camp at Flora house. The programs are geared to encourage ongoing personal growth and to help develop skills in math, English, science, sports, the arts, nutrition, and computers.

Together Brad and Nicole play an important role in providing the neighborhood with a safe place where their children are steered away from crime, drugs and unfortunate situations that occur commonly in this neighborhood. Brad and Nicole are addictions and community service workers who help counsel and educate the children in making better decisions. They spend their time insuring the children follow the scheduled activities and develop their skills.

We would love to take these children to more outings so that they can experience a world outside of their own however a lack of funding has been a large barrier. One of the hopes Brad has for this program is to increase staffing to exceed the capacity of 12 children per program. He hopes that in the future Flora House can acquire funding to create a similar program for 15-17 year olds, so that the youth in the current program can continue to be guided towards a more fulfilling life at a age where outside influences are at their height.