When you are homeless, while you have nearly nothing, you have every hope that life will get better.
Haven Toronto, a drop-in centre for elder men age 50-plus, helps instill that hope in thousands of clients annually. Open every day - including all major holidays - the centre reduces barriers to health care, eliminates food insecurity and provides opportunities for social inclusion, all programs that are vital to elder men impacted by poverty, homelessness and isolation.
One client, Ron G. was a regular at Haven Toronto. The drop-in centre was a safe, inviting space where he could be part of a community.
Even though Ron left a tight-knit community in Cape Breton for the big city, he made a point of regularly making calls to family back home. A lifetime of poverty - working poor - meant he was unable to travel home. More specifically, he was unable to afford travel so Ron’s phone was his connection to the coast.
As is the case with every elder homeless man, life on the street meant Ron was vulnerable to theft and abuse. A person who is homeless will be attacked, on average, at least once every year they are on the street.
Ron was no exception. When his phone was stolen so was his ability to stay in touch with friends and family.
A replacement phone wasn’t in the budget and Ron went without his lifeline.
On several occasions, Ron’s family tried to call him but there was no answer. They were unsure as to why. They knew he recently lost his apartment. They didn’t know he ‘lost’ his phone. Like any close family, they were worried and started to call around in hopes of hearing about, or better yet, hearing from Ron.
They would never
hear Ron’s voice again.
When news finally found his family, it was that Ron, age 62, had died alone on the busy streets of the country’s biggest city.
During their time of grief, Ron’s family was comforted to learn that he was a client of Haven Toronto and that he had a special connection with staff. That knowledge helps Ron’s family look back and move forward with peace of mind.