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Asare found mentorship at a community program. Now, he shows his local love by supporting drop-ins like the one that helped Mike.

His decision to take action...

Asare

As a youth with no male role model in my life, I struggled with authority and conflict resolution. Mentors from a program in my community opened my eyes to a whole different world in terms of my capabilities and what I could do with my life.

I’m thankful for that resource and for all of the subsequent mentors that were and are currently a part of my life. It’s scary to think about where I would be without those experiences. I definitely wouldn’t be working in public service and giving back to my community every day.

I’m part of a United Way program where we meet with diverse and talented youth who are interested in different career paths. We talk to them about their interests and how they can get involved in the community. It’s no secret that youth are our future. This program cultivates opportunities for them to thrive. There’s so much untapped potential and opportunity to have young leaders get involved in important local initiatives and issues, like homelessness and food security.

I see many young people who have similar upbringings and circumstances to mine. And it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also motivating. I see myself in these kids and I hope that they see themselves in me. Whether I’m having a meaningful conversation with them and bringing up something that they never thought about, or continuously keeping them accountable for how they choose to live their lives, it’s important to continue to be involved in their lives.

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the individuals who have donated to United Way. So, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you. Whether you can donate your time, your skills, your money, or all three, it’s not going unnoticed—it’s really impacting lives on an individual level.

- ASARE
United Way donor

 

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CHANGED HIS LIFE

Mike

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—every day, 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
United Way program participant

 

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