Paula’s story: from addiction to inspiration

Five years ago, Paula Armstrong made a life-changing decision. The way she puts it, “I made a move to help myself.”

Like so many others in neighbourhoods across Vancouver, a 15-year battle with illness and addiction had drained Paula of her social skills, her career skills, and especially her self-worth. As a start to what the 58-year-old calls her “long, slow road back to society,” Paula enrolled in VCC’s Workplace Essential Skills training, a free and flexible program designed for people with unemployment history or significant employment barriers.

This is how Paula, now a published writer, musician and food service entrepreneur describes her experience:

“Going into the program, I had lost confidence in my ability to perform basic tasks like adding numbers together or even composing a sentence with correct punctuation, but after the first couple of weeks, I felt like my brain had been in a deep sleep and was just waking up! What joy! I soon started to believe that I wasn't dumb or damaged from my years of self- abuse.

I was reminded that throughout my life I had performed my jobs with an attitude of excellence, initiative and commitment. Most of my jobs have been in the service industry, so volunteering did not feel out of reach to me. My computer skills were nil, so going to the computer room at VCC was a very helpful aspect of the course. The Working with Others component also enabled me to see that I actually enjoy people and I'm good at it.

Read More: Paula’s story: from addiction to inspiration