Day 470: The Good Shepherd

Soup-Kitchen-Jump-CI dedicated my last post to my in-laws, who both passed away last week. In lieu of flowers at my father-in-law’s funeral, a donation to The Good Shepherd Centre was suggested instead. I was happy to make that donation today.

Among many other charitable causes my father-in-law supported, The Good Shepherd held a special place in his heart. And it is a special place indeed.

To do justice and to love kindness

“The Good Shepherd,” as it is affectionately called, is well known on the streets of Toronto. It’s a place to get a hot meal, clean clothes, a safe, clean bed for the night. It’s a place to go when you need someone to listen, someone to help.

What makes Good Shepherd Ministries special? The answer is different for each person who walks through the door.

Here’s one of their stories:

imgStoriesGaryGary’s Story

On December 27, 2005, Gary (affectionately known as “Tiny”) hit rock bottom. A big, amiable truck driver in his mid-fifties who had been married for more than 27 years, he had just gone through a divorce that left him homeless, penniless, alone and deeply depressed.

I was on the street, it was cold, and I didn’t know what to do. I phoned my uncle, he’s a retired police officer who lives in Prince Edward Island. He said ‘Go to the Good Shepherd. I know the Brothers; they’ll give you a place.’

So I went to the Good Shepherd. I took with me a bottle that had rat poison, weed killer and other things, and I thought, ‘If my uncle’s not right and I can’t get a place to stay here, I’ll go to Bluffers Park and drink this and I’ll be dead in three minutes.’ But I met a gentleman on the ramp that I knew, and I got a bed next to him.

I started working with the staff in the Resettlement Program (housing help) to get Employment Insurance so I could find housing. But then in February 2006, they sent me to St. Michael’s Hospital. I had pleurisy and pneumonia and it looked like I had kidney stones. It turned out I was in the first stage of leukemia. They phoned my Resettlement worker and Father Ed, and they told them, we don’t know if he’s going to make it. I was in hospital a lot of days.

When I came back to Good Shepherd, I was in rough shape. Kathleen in the medical clinic arranged for me to stay in and rest during the day, helped me with pills and medication. The staff noticed what I needed and took care of it – three pillows on my bed because I have an old neck injury, extra blankets.

When they got big clothes in the clothing room, they hung on to them for me. I talked a lot to Sister Joan (Director of Pastoral Care) and Father Ed. The care from the staff keeps your spirits up.

I didn’t know how I was going to survive, I didn’t have any money. But the Resettlement staff put my papers in for ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). They rushed the ODSP through because of the cancer.

I missed my first chance at housing when I was in the hospital, but in October 2006, an apartment came up. I signed the lease, but they had a lot of work to do on the apartment, so I didn’t move in until January.

I’m very happy with my housing. It’s a big bachelor, big enough that if I need to use a walker or a wheelchair later, I can do that.

Some days are good, some days I can’t even get out of bed. The Resettlement staff check in on me.

I know if I hadn’t come to Good Shepherd, I wouldn’t be alive today. Keep up the good work!


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