Marvin Heller proves that perseverance and believing in yourself gets results.
He was homeless since late 2019. At that time, he was picked up by police on a 20-year-old warrant for a minor offence. Marvin was transferred from Collingwood where he had been working and living on a farm for close to five years, to Newmarket where he sat in custody for several days before appearing before a judge and being released. Although on good terms with his employer, during his time in Newmarket, Marvin had been replaced at work. He received this news at the Newmarket Bus Terminal where he was awaiting a bus back to Collingwood. Marvin was devastated. With no where to go, limited cash, and in a town he didn’t know, he felt completely alone.
A man approached Marvin and asked him if he needed any help. He suggested that Marvin stop by Inn From the Cold to see if they could assist in any way. Marvin describes his first few weeks at Inn From the Cold in early 2020 as “a total shock to my system.” He defines himself as a country man, having worked on farms and doing carpentry for his entire life. Being in Newmarket and surrounded by so many people made settling in difficult. However, with time and according to Marvin, the “lovely and helpful staff”, he was able to start moving forward. He made an application to receive Ontario Works for income support. He also did an intake with LOFT, including a streamlined access application for housing. Marvin broadened his network and began working closely with a York Region Diversion Worker and re-started medical appointments for knee replacement surgery. His knee injury was the result of a farm accident several years earlier. He joined Inn From the Cold’s Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’ By World Program where he learned that others had experienced similar life events that had left them homeless too. Just talking about his experience and putting it into broader perspective encouraged him to keep moving ahead.
When Inn From the Cold’s seasonal shelter was about to close, Marvin went to Kingsbridge Transitional Shelter where he was tested for Covid-19 and placed in isolation to await his test results and be ready if a housing offer came his way. Towards the end of his stay at Kingsbridge, LOFT offered Marvin housing through their Mental Health and Justice Program. He was ecstatic and moved in to his “incredibly beautiful new home” in mid-June.
Marvin continues to visit Inn From the Cold’s Drop-By program regularly, staying connected and continuing to work on his road map to Getting Ahead. When we asked him recently, “What can we do to help you move forward”, he answered, “How can I help Inn From the Cold?” This gracious and kind man is laser focused on his knee surgery, getting back to work, and giving back to the organizations and community that helped him to get ahead!