Close this search box.
Marshall's Story

At just 20 years old, Marshall is an old soul.

Unlike many of his friends, he never really got the chance to be a kid. When he was 13 years old, his mom was diagnosed with cancer. The younger of two siblings, Marshall stuck close to his mother while she was sick. When she passed away two years later, Marshall was on his own. “So much changed in the course of a day,” he says, “I feel like I’m 30 today.”

With their dad out of the picture, Marshall and his sister temporarily lived with their aunt and uncle. But the new living arrangements proved to be tough on everyone and Marshall soon found himself sleeping at shelters and friend’s houses.

When he turned 16 Marshall was referred to Community Youth Programs (CYP), a United Way Oakville funded agency that provides residential placement for youth not able to live with their family, and not yet ready to be independent. It was a slow adjustment, but with the tough love and support offered by the program, Marshall was able to start putting his life back together.

“The push you need is always a helping hand from someone else,” Marshall reflects about the placement, “they helped me realize that I had to take care of myself first.” Marshall lived at CYP for 2 years, and continued to get help from their transitional support program when he left. His support worker Susan worked with him to find living accommodations, help navigate debt issues and apply for school.

Marshall has been independent for five years now, and Susan has become a great mentor and friend. She has helped him to overcome challenges and deal with problems that seem insurmountable to any child or youth. At a time when he needed help, Marshall received the structure, support and tools to help get him back on his feet. But that’s not all; Marshall was also a big part of his own accomplishments and success. “I always ask myself, ‘what would my mom say if I wasn’t happy today?’” he comments, “and that’s why I work so hard, because she would want me to be happy.”


Similar Stories

“I started my relationship with the agency four years ago. I was attending a program to learn about computers and someone suggested I could have lunch at the senior’s centre in the same building as the school. I was served delicious lunches and was able to participate in activities. The centre gives seniors a sense of independence and a chance to have a social life. They make them feel important.
As a newcomer, Sebastian found himself struggling in school and trying to learn English. Now, five years later, he is volunteering at the United Way-supported agency and serving as a leader to newcomers arriving today. His family emigrated from there home country when Sebastian was seven. “It was because of the state my country was in. It wasn’t the greatest in terms of safety. We were shot at one day when going to my grandma’s house, and I think that’s what led my parents to finally make the decision to immigrate.”