How the Salvation Army helped save a marriage

Saanich man Clinton Dalsin has turned to the Salvation Army a number of times over the years for help with shelter and food.

But Dalsin, 60, is most grateful for the free marriage counselling he received through the Salvation Army. It’s what he credits for keeping his 13-year marriage on track. “I’ve had some food hampers of the years,” he said. “And I’ve also stayed at a place called the Maxwell Meighen Centre, a homeless shelter in Toronto.”

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“But I really believe if it weren’t for the free marriage counselling I would not have a marriage today,” said Dalsin. “And being married is way better than being a loner and not having someone there.”

The marriage tips he has received are part of the free counselling services offered through the Salvation Army, which gets regular support from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.

The Salvation Army operates a full range of services at the Stan Hagen Centre for Families at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Quadra Street. Besides counselling there’s job skills training, seniors help, Mothers Day spa treatments for mums and Fathers Day BBQs for dads, and summer camps for kids.

Dalsin has receives three food hampers every year, including the one he receives as thanks for ringing the bells and tending a Christmas Kettle every holiday season. It’s a task he has taken on for the past eight years.

He “deeply believes the Salvation Army is the best organization in Canada when to it comes to non-profits.”

Dalsin lives on a disability pension. When he was in his early 20s he had a psychiatric episode. He was studying music and speech at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, visual arts at Camosun College and fine arts at the University of Victoria at the time.

He landed in the Eric Martin Pavilion at Royal Jubilee Hospital where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since then he has also been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, a blood-sugar condition.

Dalsin’s wife also lives with handicaps, most notably diabetes.

“Sometimes when my blood sugar gets kind of high I can get kind of cranky and when my wife’s blood sugar gets high or low she has her issues,” he said. “And then mental illness can flare up for me when things aren’t great.”

But Dalsin said counselling has always helped him cope with his own conditions and with his wife’s. One doctor advised him that none of us can ever know the full extent of another person’s disabilities but we can accept and deal with them nonetheless. “So I have to try and cope with her issues and my own handicaps and try to get along and be the kind of person that’s easy to get along with in a marriage,” he said.

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