Close this search box.
Mike’s Story

Coming Home

“Before I moved to the city, I mostly hung out in strip clubs, bars and pool halls. I got involved with drugs and just went wild. When I moved here, I wanted to start a new life.

On the street, I became an easygoing, loveable guy. I walked everywhere with a shopping cart and collected scrap. But it got to a point where I was getting older and couldn’t walk around pushing carts. Plus, I was lonely—it’s hard to be alone in a big city. If you don’t have a place to go, you’re a lost soul.

That’s why, when a friend told me about a United Way drop-in centre that gives people a place to spend their time and find friendship, I decided to check it out.

My life is much better now. The drop-in centre staff helped me get sober and find an apartment. I got really lucky with this apartment. I’ve spent time on the streets in the winter and it’s hard—everyday, you have to hunt to find somewhere warm and safe to spend the night. You get to a certain point in your life where you’ve got to be warm.

I don’t care who you are: Everyone deserves a chance to have a roof over their head. Now I have that. I even have a cat!

It’s not only about housing. Coming to the drop-in centre has changed me. This place has become my community and my family—it means I don’t have to spend all my time alone in my apartment. I think it’s important to have places to go to as you get older. The drop-in centre has also helped me learn to cope with people who have their own problems and can be easily triggered. Now, others come to me when they want to talk about a problem. I’m helping people too.

My advice to others? Have compassion when you see people out there who have problems.

Offer a few nice words instead of turning a blind eye. Who knows— by making somebody smile, maybe they’ll make somebody else smile. And if everybody starts smiling, life gets better.” — Mike


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.”