My name is William. I don’t like to talk too much about the past, but I can share with you that I had a pretty hard life with a lot of family problems. I spent a lot of time in emergency rooms for mental health challenges, until I was diagnosed with severe depression, OCD and anxiety. As part of my mental illness, I made some bad decisions that led me to also having an addiction problem. Fortunately, I was referred a great psychiatrist and a social worker, and with their support I started walking the difficult road to get better.
I have lived in shelters in the past, but I am currently on disability and am living in a boarding home. I have made some good friends there, but you still do not get much privacy, and that can be very stressful at times. For this reason, I would really like to move to my own place, but with Toronto being so expensive there is no way that I can afford a regular rent on disability only.
I wanted to work, but there is a lot of stigma around people with mental illness and disabilities, and because of that finding a job can be very challenging. However, some months ago an employment coach referred me to St. Felix Centre, and many things started to change for me since then!
St. Felix Centre offered me a part-time employment opportunity to be part of their maintenance staff. Having the opportunity to earn some money is great, but there are also more important things to that… Working here has allowed me to get out of the boarding house during the day and start meeting new people. I really like working with my co-workers; they have always made me feel welcomed, valuable and part of the team. You meet a lot of different people from different background, and recently I even got a chance to train a new staff member! I can also relate to what the guests are going through, and working here makes me feel that I am helping them to make their journey a little bit easier.
Since I started working at St Felix Centre I have gained more stability and have improved the connection with my family as well. I am very thankful for all the support I have received… St. Felix Centre has been very important to me; they have become part of my family.
Somebody once said to me that life is short. You can’t change the past, but you can change the present and the future. That really made an impression on me. I’m really thankful to St. Felix for giving me a chance to use my skills and expertise and to give back to the community, and I hope that my story inspires and give hope to other people facing difficult times. A message for them: Be patient with your goals, it gets hard at times, but you can do it… step by step. There is hope!