Al’s Journey

A community is only as strong as the sum of its parts, and strong, supportive, and inclusive neighbourhoods are vital to a thriving community. In many neighbourhoods across Northwestern Ontario, however, local residents are dealing with complex issues that prevent them from building a good life. The United Way of Thunder Bay is working to change that.

To address these complex issues, United Way of Thunder Bay and local, funded partners invest in important, community-based resources that change lives, helping people get access to timely, client-focused supports when they need them most. 

‘Al’ experienced homelessness, living with addiction, loss of employment, and limitations due to a criminal history. Al had voiced a sense of hopelessness, loss, lack of support, and low-self esteem, and felt absent of family, community and belonging. He was withdrawn, dismissive of programs, and generally unengaged.

The team at the John Howard Society worked to unlock Al’s passion, tapping into what he referred to as his “calling”. What started as a small request in their kitchen for cooking tools, salt, and oil, they were able to support Al’s love for cooking. Soon, by offering the means to cook for others, show off some amazing cultural dishes from his background, and experience appreciation from other clients and staff alike, Al began to open up. With each passing day, a new side of Al shone through, and before long he was engaged in additional programs and recreation.

“It feels like I am back home cooking for the family again. I don’t usually do things like this, but today I felt confident enough to try.”

The Recreation Therapy program provided Al with a feeling of belonging, a drastic improvement in self-esteem, and excitement for the future. By connecting Al with other services in the community, he felt a new confidence bolstered by community support.

"You guys are exactly the kind of help I’ve been looking for.”

Al’s previous feelings of hopelessness, lack of support, and loss, have been transformed to confidence that he can change his life, belief in himself, and a genuine sense of support. Al has since found new employment with a local kitchen, is in the process of expunging his criminal record, and is beginning his integration into the community.

Al is truly ‘every-man’; his story is representative of many local people who have found themselves in hard times. But Al sought support, and found it, through a United Way of Thunder Bay funded agency.

Your donations create opportunities for empowerment of local people, and we are very grateful for your support.

Together, we’re creating a stronger community, where everyone has a sense of belonging and connection. Thank you!