Lyle Torrens gave everything for his children, the community is helping him to raise them and now he’s teaching them to give back.
“They’re my life. I’d do anything for them,” said Torrens who has been a single father to Tatianna, five, and Beverley, four, for four years. He and their mother separated when the youngest was four-months-old and he sold his property and most of his other possessions to pay for the costly custody case. The children’s mother does not live in the area, and they see her occasionally.
“I get a lot of help from my friends and a lot of help from the community. This town has been absolutely amazing. I had help from NONA and The People Place and The Upper Room Mission has been absolutely phenomenal. We don’t often use the food facilities but we get clothing and the kids always get treats there so we like to go down and help out when we can.”
He likes the caring staff and the way the Mission guests are considerate of the children.
“My Bev likes that she has the same name as Bev Henke there and she always gets a special hug,” said Torrens, who will always be grateful for the Mission’s help in getting a home established for the children when he first got custody.
“I was sad because the kids had no home but I was happy that I had them. They were wonderful in giving us what we needed. I like this neighbourhood. There are lots of kids here and I made our yard into a kind of neighbourhood playground. It was a very good feeling to have a home and see the girls comfortable and safe in it.”
Torrens, a construction worker, works when he can fit it around the children’s needs. He describes Tatianna as the shy, quiet one, a kindergarten student who loves to read and do puzzles, while Beverley, who is in pre-school, as more rough and tumble and liking to make up stories about her dolls. They both love school and are doing well.
“It’s a lot of fun when she tells her stories and we do things together. I don’t know who has more fun, the kids or me. I’m blessed that my children are so good, polite and respectful. They’re wonderful kids. I thank NONA for teaching me a lot of things about being a parent,” he said.
“And I have a lot of respect for my parents, who taught me good morals and a good work ethic which has helped me all my life.”
He said Mission staff has been there to help him talk things through and give him another perspective when he needed it, and the Mission helped make Christmases special for the children.
“We got so many packages from the people who support the Mission. The tree was piled up with gifts and the kids were in their glory. It made me cry. I really appreciate everything they do and it would have been a really tough go of it if they hadn’t been there.”
Torrens spends most of his time with the children and in his spare time he likes to listen to classical music and build intricate models of wooden ships from scratch. One of his models of the Blue Nose is in the Maritime Museum in Halifax. He does all his own cooking with natural products as much as possible and likes baking whole wheat bread and the children’s favourite, stir fry with udon noodles.
“We go day to day. There’s always food, clothing and shelter. Places like the Mission make it a lot easier for a lot of people. It’s a blessing for a pile of people in this town,” he said. “I was always someone who had to do everything for himself. I’ve learned to take help and I help others as I am being helped. Sometimes I take some of the people I meet at the Mission out for coffee and/or invite them up for a meal and a visit. People with no families like to be with a family sometimes. It’s good for us all to be in a community that cares, caring that comes from the heart.”