Suit helps young Surrey man on road to recovery

Suit helps young Surrey man on road to recovery

NEWTON — Two years ago, Dylan Vanlimbeek’s confidence and self-esteem was so low that he couldn’t look people in the eye. Now the 21-year-old man wears the suit and tie he received from the Moores’ Canadian Suit Drive to work in the furniture department at PricePro.

Vanlimbeek is originally from Toronto, but moved to Surrey so he could enter the John Volken Academy – which was formerly called Welcome Home.

The academy is a two-year program for people ages 19 to 34 who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

The Torontonian is five weeks away from completing the program after turning his life around after being addicted to heroin during the final years of his teens.

"I was dropping out of school," Vanlimbeek said. "I was always just fixed on finding the next best thing I could do, which in my mind at the time was to have fun or to not be here. I chose to do opiates, which would take me out of my environment and out of reality and not have to deal with anything. I wasn’t sure or proud of who I was as a person."

After dropping out of high school, Vanlimbeek moved out of his parents house, but was unable to hold a job for longer than three months without getting fired or "freaking out" and quitting.

"I tried to take on two jobs to support (living on my own) while supporting a drug addiction and it didn’t work out," said Vanlimbeek.

Realizing he could no longer lie to his family about being OK, Vanlimbeek told them about his addiction.

He has an aunt who lives in Victoria, and she showed him the John Volken Foundation website and recommended he think about enrolling in the academy.

Vanlimbeek knew it was something he had to do.

"I knew it’s what I needed to do to get out of my environment of where I was before and get as far away to what I was familiar with. It’s also the idea of starting a new life – to be somewhere different," he said.

Gabrielle Steed, an employee of the foundation, said the first six months was extremely tough on Vanlimbeek. She said he had no confidence and was always shy and kept to himself and doubted his ability.

However once he settled, Vanlimbeek started to thrive in his new environment and found himself as student council president for his graduating class.

After dropping out of high school in his teens, Vanlimbeek also completed his education while in the academy.This is the fifth year of the annual Moores’ Canadian Suit Drive, and Azeem Panjwani – the company’s regional manager for B.C. – said it is only getting bigger.

"It’s been quite overwhelming actually to see how many people in the community, once they start finding out thatwe’re collecting gently-used clothing, to be able to donate to organizations that support men trying to get dressed up to impress for interviews, for jobs, for the opportunity to get back in the community and give back a little bit," Panjwani said.

"It has got better every year."In return for their donation, which can only be handed in for the month of July, Moores’ offers customers a coupon to receive 50 per cent off their next purchase.

For more information, visit Canadiansuitdrive.com and Johnvolkenfoundation.org.

kyle.benning@gmail.com

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