Faces of FaithWorks

As I travel around the Diocese, sharing the good news of FaithWorks, parishioners often ask to hear the stories of people who have been helped by one of our FaithWorks Ministry Partners. In response to your requests, we are happy to introduce you to some of these people. Here are their stories.

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Amber’s story – One Roof Community Centre, Peterborough

“I am homeless and there is not enough money in the month from OW, Ontario Works, to pay for all my meals to get me through the month. I come here to eat.”

“I was abused in my previous relationship. I was on an emotional, like I left work, for emotional and mental reasons. Then I just decided to quit because it just got too much for me. You have to go through everything and still put a smile on your face every day at work. It was hard.”

“My townhouse got flooded, so I lost my housing. I left Windsor, where I’m from, after that. I came here [Peterborough]. It’s been really tough to try to find a stable place to live.”

[I live] “in a tent. I’m on Parkhill. It is better [than in the shelter] ‘cause you have your space. No one is there to tell you to turn your music down or that you’re a bother to them. You don’t have to take your tent down every day. My backpack is usually really heavy. Usually, I do have six bags on me.”

“During the winter, I’m not sure. I might have to go into a shelter, I guess. It’s not really ideal, but it’s somewhere safe and warm, I guess.”

Cliff’s story – One Roof Community Centre, Peterborough

“When I first went to Toronto, I was homeless for about a week so I know what it’s like to be homeless. It’s not a good sight to see.”

“Being homeless, with the way rent is going up every time you turn around, people on a fixed income doesn’t get that much money to pay for a place to live so that’s why we have homeless people. If I had my way, if I had all the money in the world, I would buy a place, like property, I’d build a house, or even an apartment building, just to get the homeless people off the streets.”

“The murders, OD’s. If you’re on the street, you don’t have nothing to eat. That’s why we have a place called The One Roof Community Centre. I’m actually happy we’ve got that place.”

“With the food situation it is getting kinda sticky out there. We need to have places that is willing to help out with more food so that people that’s homeless can eat. Hopefully we get that because every year there’s more and more people that’s becoming homeless.”

“My job is working at the One Roof, volunteering. A lot of people ask me, well, why don’t you see about getting paid. My pay is I see people come up happy and they leave happy with a full stomach. That’s my pay. A lot of people say, well, that’s the first time I’ve heard somebody say that. To me money’s nothing. As long as I see people happy that’s all that matters. It’s a friendly place. They won’t turn their back on anybody. It’s a good place to hang out and get out of the cold or get out of the heat.”

“The One Roof is actually a place for if you’re in need for bathroom stuff or harm reduction stuff that we give it out to people who needs it. It’s a good resource place to come to. We welcome everybody. It doesn’t matter what colour skin you are, what race you are, we always welcome people with open arms.”

“Like I said, getting back to One Roof, we don’t turn nobody away. If we could, we’d probably stay open 24 hours. But unfortunately, we can’t. There aren’t enough people to help out.”

Samaritan House, Barrie, ON

The Kennedy Family’s Story by Kerry Ploughman, Executive Director

Samaritan House is dedicated to helping women and children stabilize their lives after experiencing abusive situations. Unlike a shelter, we provide longer term, move in ready housing with program work and supports to help families recover from their trauma and learn how to recognize and avoid these types of situations in the future. We also work on safety plans, goal setting, planning, life skills, job search and prep., and/or further education. All of this is unique to each clients needs and long-term goals. Once they are ready to leave our housing, which is usually 9 – 18 months later, we work to secure permanent housing for them and their family. None of this can be done without the generous donations that help us run our housing and programs. 

I have included a letter from a client who recently moved from our housing into permanent housing. This client stayed approx. 3 years as it was extended due to covid. Here is the letter we received from her.

“I have had the privilege of being a resident in one of the Samaritan House transitional homes. They were able to provide myself and three children fully furnished accommodations. I was out of the woman’s shelter having stayed my allotted time there due to a very unsafe living situation and toxic relationship. It was an amazing! They had all the basic set up that anyone would need to get by when having to restart with nothing. It provided a huge relief of the burden that was ahead when it seemed like I was going to be homeless and lose my children. I will never be able to repay the kindness and understanding of my situation that they offered as well as extra supports. They assisted with Christmas and groceries as needed. Throughout the pandemic I was provided cleaning supplies. My children and I cannot thank you guys enough for all the support and help you have provided to our family while we awaited our long-term housing.
Thank-you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless all those who have helped support this amazing program.

Sincerely the Kennedy family ❤️

It is always wonderful to see family move on with the tools they need to go forward. These types of letters would not be possible without the support given to Samaritan House. We cannot thank Faithworks enough for the continued support of Samaritan House over the years. Our agency is not large, our numbers are not large, however the work we do ensures permanent stability once our client leave our program. Our clients do not recycle through the system. They leave to jobs, further education, permanent housing, with the knowledge of how to live in a healthy relationship and the skillsets to live self-sufficiently.

Thank you Faithworks for your part in our clients’ lives.

Bob’s Story

This article from our ministry partner, the Orillia Christian Centre ‘The Lighthouse’, is an example of the work that your donation to FaithWorks supports.

Picture: L-R Peter Mentis, Bob Nash, Lynn Thomas in the new kitchen

Bob’s Story – by Lynn Thomas, Development and Communications Manager

Bob has been a wonderful asset to our team.

Bob Nash is a cook by trade and in heart.  When the pandemic hit, he lost his job at Casino Rama as the hospitality industry closed down everywhere. He decided to seek work in trades and began to work as a painter. Bob worked with the crew who were contracted to paint the new Lighthouse Community Services facility in Orillia.

While painting the building, Bob observed the beautiful commercial kitchen being constructed. He said to himself, “I would LOVE to work in a kitchen like that!”  He asked the project manager who he should talk to about applying for a job.  Bob applied and was hired by ‘The Lighthouse’ once the new facility opened in July 2021. 

Bob’s salary is being supplemented with funding from FaithWorks. He is thankful to work for an organization that feeds vulnerable, homeless and food insecure people in Orillia.

‘The Lighthouse’ has faced an increased need and demand for meals in the community as it is the only daily community meal program in Orillia.  ‘The Lighthouse’ distributed over 54,000 meals to the community in 2021 through feeding the shelter participants, assisting families in need and distributing bagged lunches outdoors as the regional health unit would not allow indoor dining with the exception of our shelter participants.

Evon and the Class of 2025

Evon had big dreams for grade 7. Finally getting to middle school where you can play sports. Unfortunately, Evon started grade 7 the fall of 2019 when strike action halted all extra curricular activities. Normally, just a blip in a school career, the strike ended just in time for the pandemic to begin. Eighteen months of virtual or limited in-person classes and definitely no sports.

Evon enters grade 9; an adventure – new school, new opportunities for friends, and a bit of fear for being in a large school as the youngest. Academic pressures are real. Students do better academically when they are involved in activities outside of the classroom. The 18 months of the pandemic were a more significant percentage of life for a young person than for an adult. While the pandemic has affected everyone, there is a great question of how it will impact young people like Evon for years to come. The Class of 2025 really missed out on middle school.

Connecting with grade 9s like Evon is a strategic part of outreach each year at The Dam. If the drop-in can become a known, safe space at the start of their high school journey, it will be a place to turn to in the good days and the bad ones.