Gone Too Soon: Remembering AJ

Overdose Awareness Day August 31st, 2021


Never one to do anything by halves, AJ embraced his role as a neighbourhood advocate even though he was struggling himself. If his friends needed him he’d arrive with groceries, warm clothing or powerful words of support. Being there for his community was what made AJ happy.

“AJ was a true firecracker,” writes Lyf Stolte, Community Pastoral Worker at Sanctuary Ministries. “He was a respected leader in the community. He cared for those with whom he travelled on this unexpected journey, and he cared for them well.”

AJ was a survivor. He had a lot to be proud of, including losing 160 pounds in order to be eligible for hip replacement surgery. He was making positive steps with his addiction, well enough to secure an apartment through the Addictions Supportive Housing Program (ASH), a partnership between Fife House and LOFT’s McEwan Housing and Support Services.

This new home, coupled with LOFT’s intensive case management support, was set to play a critical role in AJ’s recovery. It was providing him with the kind of safety and stability he hadn’t known in a very long time.

Unfortunately, when his long-awaited surgery was delayed by the pandemic, excruciating pain drove him back to opioids for short-term relief.

Having a space to call home meant the world to AJ. He was happy. That is why it is so heartbreaking to tell you that his accidental overdose occurred just two weeks after he moved in.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” writes Lyf. “He got housing. It was supposed to be different. AJ was my friend, and I will miss him so much.”

Click Here for Information and Resources on LOFT’s Harm Reduction Approach.

Please help us honour recovery journeys like AJ’s and give hope for the future.