The Ask Me campaign shares the stories behind the people that make up the homeless community in Ottawa. By learning about homelessness from the people closest to it – those experiencing homelessness, volunteers, and community workers – we can highlight what is working and what is needed in our efforts to end homelessness. This is where the conversation begins.
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By Erin Dej Jim Jenkins is a goalie for an international soccer league. He has also experienced homelessness, mental health challenges, and struggled with addiction. Jim was one of a few Canadians, and only Ottawa resident, chosen for the 2015 Street Soccer Canada – National Team who played in the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam, Netherlands last summer. It has been a long road for Jim to get to Amsterdam. He spent a year and a half in Ottawa shelters, some of that time fighting for his life with double pneumonia while detoxing. Never one to give up, Jim decided that “life is still a goal” and fought to regain his health and his life. He eventually secured housing through Ottawa Community Housing and has remained successfully housed for the last eight years. […]
By Julia Anderson The most high stakes game of Bingo you have ever laid eyes on takes place each Friday at St. Joe’s Women’s Centre. The prizes might not be glamourous or expensive, but for the homeless and vulnerably housed women who use St. Joe’s as their sanctuary, winning a little something extra can go a long way. On Friday January 22nd, as morning waned into afternoon, the women began to gather around the long wooden table and clamoured to ensure their names were on the list to participate in the game. The coveted prizes of the week were donated purses that Jen, a Social Service student at Algonquin College completing a practicum at St. Joe’s, worked hard to fill with as many treats as possible: hats, mittens, scarves, and chocolate. St. Joe’s was founded in 1984 and began primarily as a drop in centre where women could come in to get out of the cold or seek shelter. Over the years the centre has moved locations and blossomed into a fully functioning daytime shelter that provides women with specific programs to meet their needs. Many of these changes and improvements are the result of the hard work done by devoted staff members such as Isabelle Mackay and Michelle Torunski, who are the program coordinators at St. Joe’s. […]
By Rob MacDonald, Housing Help As I prepare for the National Capital Race Weekend in 2016, I am in my thirty seventh year of running. Regardless of all the years and miles, every race is still a time for reflection on how it all began and how running saved my life at a young age. I ran my first marathon in 1981 and clocked a 2:55 time at the finish line. The cheering and thunderous applause was overwhelming to this novice in his first race. However, the story didn’t begin or end there. Two years earlier, it was a much more depressing time in my life. I had just lost my partner to suicide, my best friend had been killed in a car accident, and another friend had decided to take her own life while four months pregnant. For myself, I was prone to depression and had also survived a suicide attempt. Grieving the loss of my partner back in those days was the most horrible, isolating experience one could ever imagine. It was a gay relationship and, like so many others back then, it was a very closeted affair. When my partner took his life, I had no one to turn to, and no one fully understood the magnitude of my loss. I grieved in solitude, in silence and tremendous pain. […]