Billy has a home this Thanksgiving and a happy moment he’ll never forget thanks to you and our generous community.
Billy grew up in Richmond, Ontario, with his best friend, his sister Joan. They’re a year apart and they have always been inseparable. Billy remembers having a great childhood, but as he says, “it wasn’t without its rough patches” — they have been through a lot.
When Billy was a young boy, he and Joan were on the way to a Christmas parade, and their snowmobile crashed into a tree. Joan’s physical recovery took a long time, and Billy still feels like he’s trying to recover mentally from that experience. “That day still sticks with me,” he says. “I smile every time I look at her because I am so grateful she survived.”
As Billy got older, his father encouraged a passion for race cars and stock car racing. In fact, he helped him build his first car. Their relationship had its stressors, but they were close and enjoyed each other’s company. So, when he passed away at the young age of 51, Billy felt a tremendous loss.
As an adult, Billy struggles with physical health challenges and some traumatic memories he has developed throughout his life. However, when he suffered a double stroke, it led to a monumental loss – the loss of his house.
“That stroke landed me in the hospital for over five months!” he says. “I could not afford my rent during this time, so I lost my house. When the doctors discharged me, my mom and sister helped me stay in a motel for a month, but that cost added up quickly and wasn’t sustainable. After staying on a few friends’ couches, I found myself at the doors of Shepherds of Good Hope Emergency Shelter.”
Thanks to you Billy had a place to stay and a warm meal, but Billy found the shelter life difficult; he never felt like his stuff was safe. He was living with people he didn’t know or trust. Billy fought to keep what little he had safely in his hands, but the chaos led to many sleepless nights. It was not an environment he felt he could thrive in.
About a month after arriving at the shelter, a Shepherds team member approached Billy and said, “Pack your stuff”. He remembers saying, “Oh no, what have I done? And then they said they had a home for me – I thought they were joking!”
Billy took a short cab ride to Richcraft Hope Residence. It was somewhere he had never been and his head swam with uncertain thoughts. He had no idea what to expect. When he arrived, he took his few belongings, and the team gave him a warm welcome.
“It was so surreal watching them unlock my apartment door,” he says. “As I turned the handle for the first time, the staff member said – welcome home! I honestly couldn’t believe it. I turned to them and said, “For real?” As they put the key in my hand, I thought, wow, this is really happening.”
Since Billy’s original hospital stay, he has unfortunately experienced more strokes and a decrease in mobility. The Shepherds team helps him manage all his medications throughout the day, and if something happens, they are there to help respond to medical emergencies.
For Billy, Shepherds’ Richcraft Hope Residence is home.
“I feel very respected, and everyone treats me well.” He says. “After a certain time of night, they check on me every couple of hours because of my medical conditions. It truly is amazing. I have the opportunity to live fully again and move past just surviving.”
Billy’s mom and sister, Joan, visit about once a month and they regularly connect by phone. With their help, Billy is making his apartment his own.
“I enjoy the quiet of my room, watching my favourite tv shows. During the day, I will take a walk down to the common areas to chat with staff members or enjoy some fresh air outside, under the gazebo.”
Shepherds of Good Hope needs your continued support, so many more individuals, just like Billy, can be welcomed into the Shepherds community.
This Thanksgiving, please donate to give people experiencing homelessness in our community a happy moment to remember forever, just like Billy’s “welcome home!”