Two white men and a young white woman stand next to each other, laughing and wearing winter coats. They stand in front of the tree mural on the wall of the Men's Shelter on James St N. It's sunny outside.

You gave John a place where he felt at home and a support network that has allowed him to reach his goals, and find healing and hope for the future.

John grew up in Toronto. He was successful in his career, quickly climbing the corporate ladder, and had a happy home life. Then, in 1999, he was in a serious car accident.

To help with the pain, his doctor prescribed Oxycontin. “Within weeks I was so hooked on this drug. I was getting it from different doctors. Then it loses its effectiveness, and it led me to other drugs because it wasn’t working,” he said.

He tried a few different treatment centers, but relapsed. But John was determined to overcome. That determination led him to go to a more intensive treatment centre eight years ago, and has remained sober since then.

Though he had succeeded on part of his healing journey, other circumstances that followed began, as John puts it, his “slow drip to homelessness.” In the midst of receiving treatment, he and his wife split up and he lost his job. He filed for bankruptcy and moved in with a friend in Hamilton. When his friend didn’t pay the rent, even though John paid him his share, they were evicted. John had no money, and no place to go. “I was homeless for seventeen months and it was horrific. I wasn’t equipped for that.”

While facing homelessness, John experienced significant violence that caused him to end up in the hospital several times. His health became compromised, and due to negative experiences at other shelters, his condition wasn’t improving. That is, until he came to Mission Services’ Men’s Shelter. “Suffering from depression as I do, some days were so dark. I was wondering, ‘is this ever going to get better?’”

“It wasn’t until I came to Mission Services that I felt at home,” John reminisced. “Every single person who works here contributed to me getting back, mentally and physically. I was here for about three months before moving into my own place. Honest to God it was like being at home. The food is incredible, the support is incredible. They also keep a very close eye on people so it’s a safe environment.”

While at the Men’s Shelter, staff assisted him with housing, financial support programs, and more. With the help and guidance of staff, John has been able to heal physically, and emotionally. Victor, Mission Services’ Chaplain helped him furnish his new place, allowing him to save money, and feel at home.

Now, he’s focusing on surrounding himself with good people, including Men’s Shelter staff, and on getting his security guard license. John still comes to the shelter to see Victor to receive some guidance, and talk with staff to help him set and accomplish new goals and next steps.

While he worries for the future of others experiencing addiction and homelessness, he is thankful for Mission Services. “The good news is that this place is making a difference. I see success stories here. This place saved my life, it really did. Staff do a great job, and they make a difference. It’s my goal to give back to this institution in some shape or form,” John concluded.

JOHN’S STORY demonstrates his determination and hope for the future, thanks to your support. However, it also paints a real picture of the challenges those struggling in Hamilton face. Poverty, addiction, and violence are just some of those issues. That is why we need our community, now more than ever. Your gifts can help more of our neighbours find food, housing, and the supports they need to reach their goals

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