This week I started to understand for myself what the community drop in is all about. Joe has told me that it’s a place where people can feel safe and cared for and also where individuals are able to build relationships with others, but really understanding it makes a huge difference than from hearing it.
I met two individuals who helped me understand the other definitions of homelessness, aside from having no real home.
A woman in her 40s named Sabrina started talking to me, asking me how everything was going. We talked for a bit and then finally asked the question everyone ALWAYS asks, “So what program are you here for?” The community drop in is known to have students come in for their placements. The programs can vary but are mostly connected with Social Work and Nursing – anything that services individuals in an assistance kind of way. I told her that I was here out of my own free will, but there was a project tied in with it as well. So we talked about what a BA in Communications means and how stressful it is being a student. She signalled me to come closer to her with her finger and whispered, “I’m completing my Master’s degree in Psychology this semester as well. So I can understand the stress of the last few months of school!” She smiled and chuckled. I was shocked. I blatantly asked her why she comes here because I wasn’t sure if she was here as a placement or because of her own free will. She gently replied, “Because I like it here. The people are nice once you get to know them and very supportive as well.”
I don’t know if she considers herself homeless, but I do know that she frequents the community drop-in. She’s only one example of a person who comes here for the friendships, support, and relationship.
Another person who really showed me the reality of what a tough life really is was a young guy named, Tim. He is only a year older than me. He never continued his education, needed a job and moved to Toronto with nothing to look forward to. The community drop-in became his home, his family. Although he uses the services here, he’s also become involved in serving the community. Although Tim came to Toronto with no job and only a certain amount of cash to pay through for his rent and bills, only not too long ago did he land a job. His achievements didn’t end there; he’s starting to think about his education and what he wants to do in the future. As he talked about it, he had the biggest grin on his face. It was priceless.
Just hearing stories like these can really brighten up another person’s life. It’s so great to hear the motivation shine from individuals who started off with barely anything. When people are at their toughest point in life, it is often hard to point their life back in the direction of success. Yet both of these individuals found their support in the community drop-in. Yes, this place may be a safe haven for some, source of food for others, a warm place to crash for many, but to each of them it is also a place of shoulder to lean on.