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Giving back

A young man leans against a door casing while smiling at the camera. He is wearing a blue suit and tie. There is a wood clad wall and exposed lightbulb to the left. Behind the man is a room with modern wallpaper.
Yarnell Arsenault, Founder & CEO, Creative Freedom Marketing & Promotions (Location: The Bridge Halifax)

Hungry, cold and nowhere to go. Yarnell Arsenault says the time he spent blindly wandering the streets with a backpack containing all his possessions was the worst experience of his life.

“I was starving and so thin. I can recall looking to a bank lobby for shelter when nothing else was available. I had to make a lot of tough decisions to survive.”

Relying on the Metro Turning Point for a bed to sleep in and Hope Cottage for a hot meal, Yarnell says that without the love and support of his family and the services offered by a number of community organizations, he would not have been able to turn things around.

“At the shelter; you had to be in by 6 p.m. to claim a bed,” says Yarnell. “There were times I didn’t make it in time and got sent away. During the day, I would have breakfast at the church and then drop off resumes — with no results. Then for supper, I went to Hope Cottage.”

Yarnell soon found himself slipping into a deep depression.

I’ve been here for 20 years. Yarnell is the only person to have done what he’s done, and come back with a donation. He’s the most successful client who has ever come through our doors.

Ed Hollett
Counsellor, Doorman and Cook, Hope Cottage

Turning point

“It was all really hard on my head, and I my motivation took a hit.”

With nowhere else to turn, Yarnell found himself on his grandparent’s step. “All I wanted to do was sleep. After a few months of no improvement; my grandmother, Natherine, contacted the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to get me the help I needed.”

Through NSHA’s Community Mental Health Services, Nancy Trenchard, Therapy Assistant and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (retired), worked with Yarnell to set goals and get his life back on track and get a home of his own.

As a first step, Nancy and Natherine gave Yarnell a choice: work or school. He chose school, and enrolled in Business Administration (Marketing Concentration) at Ivany Campus.

“At the time, I was simply going to school because I was in no shape to work and I needed to keep busy,” says Yarnell. “But I soon realized it was the best decision for me and my future.”

Creative freedom

“I come from a long line of entrepreneurial, creative individuals, and I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” says Yarnell. “I originally envisioned myself having a record label, but quickly realized that I had a passion for working with small businesses.”

One year after graduation, Yarnell launched his firm: Creative Freedom Marketing & Promotions. The Dartmouth firm offers clients a full range of small business marketing services including web development, domain management and shared web hosting; as well as traditional marketing services and graphic design work such as flyers, banners and vehicle wraps. Yarnell says for some of his clients he has also been known to offer tech support.

“During my time at NSCC, I developed so many skills that I use daily for my business. From communications to accounting, to market research and management. My new understanding of business, in general, is priceless. Although, at times, it’s been challenging, it’s been well worth it.”

Each Spring, Yarnell returns to Hope Cottage. He goes to make a donation and give thanks to the organization that helped him get his life back on track.

Fast Fact

Hope Cottage was started by Father Joe Mills in 1971. On opening day, Hope Cottage served 34 meals. Today, it distributes approximately 200 meals per day (Monday to Friday).