Cheryl was just like you or anyone else, living a regular life. She had her own business and a full life. She knew who she was and where she was going.
For Cheryl, a diagnosis of cancer changed everything. Treatments took their toll on her, both physically and emotionally. The financial pressures started to mount, something Cheryl was simply not able to deal with on top of her illness and treatments.
As time wore on, Cheryl started to regain her physical health but still had not dealt with the emotional trauma of breast cancer. During this time, Cheryl’s bills continued to pile up and she ended up losing her home. Cheryl did not know where to turn, where to get help. She was alone, afraid and homeless.
Cheryl was told of a relatively new program, run by the City and the YMCA-YWCA, for women who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. Cheryl made contact. Thankfully, there was an opening and Cheryl not only found a place to live, but also a place to heal and get back on her feet. The TRY program provides a safe and caring environment where Cheryl could access the help and support she needed. Cheryl was also accepted and supported by the other program participants, as they were all on a similar journey.
Cheryl is now taking her life back. For the first time in a long time, she has hope for her future. With the help of a TRY counsellor, she is setting life goals and is looking forward to living independently again soon. Cheryl wants to say thank you to everyone who has made this program possible. “Its investments like these that positively affect so many lives in our community, including mine”.
Cheryl went from a successful working woman to being homeless in a matter of months. “Look at me”, said Cheryl, “I could be your sister, your mother, your brother, your daughter or your friend.”
A tragedy tore Cheryl’s life apart but the gift of a supportive community-based program is helping her put her life back together.
Gilles grew up in a family that struggled financially and had issues with addictions. In his neighbourhood, it was either fight or flight. So Gilles fought. Time and time again he found himself in juvenile detention. The last time Gilles went home, he found his mother and siblings gone. No one could tell Gilles where his family had gone. He was 15 years old, alone and homeless; his new home was the streets of Ottawa.
A local police officer told Gilles about the Youth Services Bureau (YSB), a local agency that helps young people get back on their feet. Reaching a “fork in the road”, Gilles had a choice to make. He could choose life on the street or he could ask for help. Recognizing the dangers of living on the streets, Gilles decided to give the Youth Services Bureau a shot. City and YSB staff helped Gilles apply for financial assistance, find temporary housing and locate a high school near his ‘new’ home. Everyone was so nice to Gilles and he was bound and determined not to let himself or the people that helped him down.
In the end, Gilles made everyone extremely proud. He graduated high school, continues to play competitive rugby and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Today Gilles attends college and expects to graduate as a Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Technician next year.