In June of 2004, Juan. arrived in Toronto like many do, full of hopes that the big city will offer limitless possibilities and opportunity. He had moved here from a smaller Canadian city, where he could not find a job.Living in Toronto would be the start of his new life, he felt. Yet, the hustle-bustle of the city only made Juan feel lost and alone. He didn’t know where to begin to look for a place to live. As he walked the streets, he met someone who told him where he could find a place to sleep – the Salvation Army Gateway.
Arriving on our doorstep, he found much more than a bed for the night. He found supportive people who treated him with dignity and respect, and who offered him practical advice on finding housing and a job.
Juan told us that he was willing to work hard and take any kind of job, but he didn’t have the confidence to look within himself and see what skills he had to offer. Juan also faced an uphill battle because his English was poor. We were able to get him into English as a second language classes, and helped him recognize the strengths we saw in him that an employer would value.
While ensuring Juan had a bed in our shelter and food in his stomach, we also approached the Toronto Housing Authority on his behalf, looking for an affordable apartment. A few months later, Juan found work and moved into an apartment we had secured for him.
To make sure he started off on the right foot, we channeled some donations of food and furniture to him. Juan kept in touch with us, feeling comfortable here and having found a friend in Chris, our Housing Worker. A few months later, feeling secure and settled, Juan asked his girlfriend, who was still living in the town from which he had moved, to join him in Toronto.
Today, Juan is doing well, having indeed found a new life, with the help of Gateway. He and his girlfriend married, and recently the happy couple welcomed a new child into their lives.
Seeing Juan could use our help once more, we gave the couple some baby clothes and furniture. “We are very grateful to Gateway for all their help,” says Juan on behalf of himself and his wife. “I have seen this is a good place, and they really help people. They are special – it is not anybody that can do this for people.”