Once cold, addicted, and homeless, now Ashley Guimond is offering hope to others that she once desperately needed.
"I first came to Adult & Teen Challenge (ATC) in December of 2019," says Guimond. "I was homeless on the streets and I was going to the Lighthouse for food, shelter, and a warm place to stay throughout the day."
Guimond had previously lost custody of her two children due to her addiction.
"I got sober and I went to detox, but the program that I was waiting for denied me access, so I thought, I'll go to another program. I didn't know the Lighthouse was Teen Challenge."
One of the men at Lighthouse Mission shared that she could check out the ATC program in Brandon for women. Within weeks, she walked through the doors of the home in Brandon.
A Promise from God
Coming into the program, Guimond didn't have a relationship with her children and hadn't for roughly five years.
"I felt like I didn't know how to be a mom. But God gave me a promise in my third or fourth month that me and my children will be a family unit again. I was like, how is that even possible?"
After Guimond spent just over a year in Brandon at the women's centre, she felt led to go to Thunder Bay to take part in another aspect of ATC.
"I went out to Thunder Bay and I was just asking God, like, do you really want me to go to Thunder Bay? I'm gonna be way farther away from my children. But I went and I trusted him and I know I got all the healing I needed in there."
After 14 months of healing with a trauma counsellor, and learning how to be a mom again, Guimond moved back to Brandon, closer to her children.
"I came back here and within a month I started having visits and then weekend visits and then now I have full custody of my children and they live with me. God's timing is perfect. If I would have rushed it, I don't think I would have been able to parent my children. I feel like everything was just a smooth transition and it was full of peace."
SURGE Leadership Program
Guimond lives with her children in Brandon and is almost finished taking the second program through ATC called SURGE Leadership.
"I learned how to love well and to receive love. I also enjoy community living. We were we are created for relationships and even though I'm introverted, I still need people."
Guimond shares that growing up she didn't have a good relationship with her mom, or other women in the community. While this was a change at ATC, it was a good one. Now she is getting an opportunity to give back to women who are going through the program for the first time.
"I know what they're going through because I've been through it. Sometimes a lot of the students kind of forget that I was there at one point in time. So for them to know that one of their leaders knows what it is to be an addict and to overcome it and then to continue to live in the light, it's awesome. I love being able to help women."
After Guimond graduates from SURGE, she is hoping to come back to Winnipeg and serve at Lighthouse Mission.
"My future is full of hope and bright. There are so many things I want to do. I want to help the homeless like where I came from. I want to serve at the Lighthouse. I want to show others that there is hope and that there's nothing too bad that Jesus can't overcome."