East coasters ending up in Alberta or even Strathmore isn't too uncommon, as many Maritimers or Newfoundlanders travel west for work. Such was the case with Newfoundlander Roy Adams, who planned what was expected to be a simple trip to B.C. to work with his friend of 20 years on a fishing boat.
Working to support his family back home, Adams was planning on taking a plane to Calgary and then driving with his friend to B.C. to start work. In a harsh twist of fate, his trip out west immediately went sideways, as he arrived in Calgary only to find his friend of 20 years left without him.
"When I got here, he was nowhere to be found. He packed it up and went out to the west coast and left me high and dry," Adams said.
With no way to get to B.C., Adams had no choice but to go to the Mustard Seed in Calgary, where he would, unfortunately, run into even more misfortune as his cell phone, work boots, and more were stolen from him. Deciding Calgary was not the place for him, Adams decided to bike all the way to Brooks to work at the meat packing plant, but even that trip wouldn't be straightforward.
"I start running out of insulin, start running out of water. And I was just like, you're gonna die if you try this."
When it seemed like it couldn't get worse, Adams's boots burned overnight when he had to sleep just outside of Chestermere and lit a fire to keep himself warm. On top of that, what little belongings he had left in his duffle bag also melted.
A situation like this would be enough to make just about anyone give up and resign themselves to quite possibly the worst string of events possible. But not Adams.
"I'm always an optimist and I have to be, because if not, I don't know what would come out of it all. I know a lot of my friends would've just given up and just slumped and I said no, not me. I can't give up."
Picking himself back up with the determination to turn a horrible situation better, Adams continued his journey to Brooks. With his supplies dwindling though, he needed help, leading him to ask farmers right outside of Strathmore to refill his water bottle and perhaps let him cook his Kraft Dinner. It turns out that a family he reached out to for help was also from Newfoundland, and gave him way more help than just that. Taking him to the overnight shelter, Adams now had a place to stay and a path forward.
Having found his way into Strathmore, he now took to looking for work wherever he could. Looking for any opportunity he could get, Adams eventually had a chance encounter with another family of local farmers, who offered him a job at the farm, along with a place to stay. Having reflected on his journey up to this point, Adams said the support he received from small-town community members was unbelievable.
"It was just one thing after another until I got to this town. Everything was just falling apart and I was like, 'Oh my God, what am I going to do? My insulin (shortage), I'm almost out of money, I said 'everything's just gonna fall apart.' As soon as I came to Strathmore, it was just like the gates of Heaven opened. 'Come on in Roy, we're gonna help you,' you know? And then it's been just nothing but positive ever since I've come here."
"When I got from Calgary to here you would think it'd be less opportunity, but it seems like I'm getting more opportunities in this town. I'm meeting nicer people. I'm meeting all kinds of people from the East Coast that are genuinely nice people. Everything that has happened in this town for me has been nothing but positive and positive energy. That's all I'm getting from this town, so I'm thinking 'why the hell would I turn this away?'"
Having gone through an ordeal few would be able to handle, Adams says his resilience and relentless optimism comes from his family.
"For me, everything is about family. Like everything I'm doing up here is going to take me back to Newfoundland so I can help my grandparents. The way I look at it my mom and dad took care of me for many years, so now they're getting older it's time for me to go home and take care of them."
"I will crawl to the end of the earth to get work and get myself back on my feet. So with that drive and just thinking that little thing in the back of my head with my grandparents and my dad and everybody saying 'go, go, go, don't stop, don't give up.' Cause nobody ever gives up in our family, and he (dad) said, we're not going to start now."
Having received an extraordinary amount of kindness and support from the community, Adams said he has no plans to leave and hopes to find employment and work his way into a financial situation where he can live here for several years.
"To be down below the rock bottom and now to be where I am, stable, a roof over my head, food in my gut, speaking to you, speaking to people in the town. I mean that if that's not a blessing, I don't know what it is."
"I'm just absorbing this positive energy and I can't wait to put it back out into the town to help people. When I'm a little more financially stable and have a bit more extra time, I want to go to the homeless shelter and volunteer. I want to do what I can to give back to this town what they give to me and I will truly give back because this is a blessing, this is unbelievable."
The story of Roy Adams is one of endless perseverance and unwavering optimism that's rooted in his love of his family and drive to always work towards a better situation. Where many would've fallen, Adams rose to the occasion and showed that no matter how bad things get, you always have the choice to push forward.
"I'm an Adams, I got the family and the drive and the will. I will not give up."
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