“I was having a really hard time finding a place to live and had been at The Radisson for the past few weeks,” Mark reflected. During the pandemic, The Radisson has doubled their emergency shelter occupancy from 50 to 100, while Lutherwood and the House of Friendship have been working hard to house people like Mark.
“COVID-19 made it hard because no one wanted to give tours, so it was a bit like buying a car without a test drive,” he joked. “But the people at Lutherwood helped to set up a virtual tour for me, and I moved into my new place at the beginning of September and I am just tickled pink so far!”
Mark’s new home is in Kitchener with lots of nearby green space. A Nova Scotia native, he loves to walk in nature and spend quiet time in the forest to unwind.
Mark had been struggling with homelessness in Waterloo Region on and off for ten years, “but I really wanted a place where I could settle in long-term, and that’s what the people at Lutherwood have found for me. I am so grateful to them for showing me so much courtesy and hope that they continue to do the same for others in our community who need help.”
Mark even keeps a few Lutherwood business cards in his pocket to hand out to those experiencing homelessness that he comes across.
When asked what was next for him, he said the most important thing is to give back. “I want to start volunteering again,” he said passionately. “Although I haven’t experienced substance addiction, I know the struggle of having a dependency on drugs.” Mark reminisced somberly about an old injury that he still needs medical assistance with today.
“I have seen others less fortunate than me, many friends who have lost their lives to drug addiction, so I would love to volunteer somewhere that deals with safe injection sites,” Mark said. “If I can help one person, if I can stop one person from going down the road to addiction, then everything I’ve been through will have been worth it.”