Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIN 211.ca - opens in a new window

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIN

Matthew at work at Furniture Link

Because of you, Matthew is back on his feet

Matthew Pugsley was only 16 years old when he dropped out of high school to help pay his rent. He spent the next decade working low-paying factory and retail jobs in his hometown of Guelph, Ontario, constantly worrying about where his next pay cheque would come from. When he was 25 years old, Matthew moved to Toronto in search of new opportunities. But, his story took a tragic turn when an accident shattered both of his heel bones, leaving him unable to walk for more than a year.

“I wasn’t able to work on my feet and I struggled to pay my rent and put food on the table,” he says. “I ended up sinking into a depression.”

Thanks to your generous support, Matthew connected with West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher’s House), a United Way–funded agency that helps young people finish school, receive job training and find employment. With the help of some “amazing” counsellors, Matthew completed his high-school diploma.

He also found a job placement at Furniture Link, the social enterprise connected with Furniture Bank, which distributes donated, gently used furniture to newcomers, the formerly homeless, and women and children who’ve been in abusive situations.

Supported by the Toronto Enterprise Fund (TEF), a joint partnership between all three levels of government and United Way Toronto, Furniture Link is a shining example of a socially driven business that provides individuals facing barriers to employment with training and work opportunities—while focusing on the bottom line, too.

In fact, since it began receiving TEF funding more than a decade ago, Furniture Link has grown into one of the largest, most successful social enterprises in Canada. In 2013, it generated moving and delivery sales of just under $1 million; in that year alone, it delivered more than 28,000 pieces of furniture to people in need. And there are plans to expand further.

As for Matthew? He’s now working full-time as a call-centre supervisor and dispatcher at Furniture Link. “I’ve finally found the opportunity I needed to put some real skills on my resume,” he says. “I’ve got a stable pay cheque, too. But, the best part is that I come to work every day and feel like I do something that matters.”