"On February 20th 2016 I came to Toronto. When I got off at the airport I asked some people if they knew of a place where I could stay because I don’t have any family in this city. I asked a security person at the airport, because I did not have a place to go. The problem I was having was that it is difficult for me to speak English and also understand English. The security person understood and said “no problem” and called some numbers for me. He was told that there was a place I could go and he wrote the address and directions down for me on a piece of paper. He explained how to get there because I was a newcomer in the city. This place was called Horizons for Youth. After some hours, I arrived at Horizons for Youth.
I introduced myself and gave my ID. The following step was to ask me some questions but I had difficulty speaking and understanding English so they found me a translator. It was one girl named Julia* (name changed to protect confidentiality). She also lived there. The staff spoke in English and explained the rules and the girl translated them for me. After this step, they went with me upstairs to show me the bed where I will sleep. When I was up in my room I began to think about life and I was asking myself some questions. Where will I go? Where will I find money? I was crying just a little bit, because it was new to me to live alone without my family. It was also my first time living with so many people. I was used to just living with my family. After I stopped crying, I remembered the words that my father told me before I moved: Life is not easy. It is easier if you live with your parents, but if you live by yourself you will need to find your own place to go. Be strong. Keep going. Be a man of your word. Put it in your head that you need to have goals so you can achieve them and have success in life. When I thought about all of these words that my father told me, I told myself that I will work and put in the effort to realize all of my goals that I had before coming here. My goals included getting a job, applying for College, and finding a place to live by myself.
After one week, I got used to staying with the people here, and I made friends. Little by little, I recovered my smile. In my heart, I knew that I had goals that I must realize. The next day I spoke with a Case Manager named Stacey to explain my life, what I needed and what I wanted. It was difficult to explain in English and I did not know where to start and what I should say. Stacey found a way to communicate using Google Translate. After some time, Stacey spoke about Youth Employment Services that offer a 3 week training program where I could learn many things through employment workshops and get a job. She asked if I would like to participate and I said “yes”.
After I started the YES program I learned many things, practiced my English and met new people. After the three week program, I found a job. I worked for just 1 month and saved my money. I went to Joanne, the housing worker, who gave me papers with housing listings on them. I kept going to work and looking for housing and after some weeks I found a bachelor apartment to live in.
I left Horizons on May 1, 2017. I have some advice to share for anyone who has found themselves homeless. Life is not easy, but just keep going. Be serious. Be strong. Have the goal to be successful in life. This is the reason I did it all so quickly. I was living with my goals clear in my head, but it is not finished. My path still continues… "
Stephanie, age 19
"Firstly I would like to thank the staff for their great job. I met friends that are so helpful and fun here at Horizons. I am provided with a shelter and can wake up in the morning knowing there is breakfast at hand, and a washroom that’s clean. The first time I came here, I had nothing. Donations helped a lot and I was motivated by others. I can now walk upright knowing the sky is the limit. The nice thing about being at Horizons for Youth is that I feel at home. I just got an apartment and thank the staff for their hard work and support."
Lydia, age 17
"Horizons has given me a warm and safe place to stay at night, three meals a day and two snacks as well. The staff are really helpful, a listening ear when I have a concern on my mind. If it weren’t for services like Horizons, I would probably be sleeping on the street. I would not have the help and support."
David, age 21
"Horizons has provided me with a safe place to rest my head at night when I have had nowhere else to turn. The staff provide life skills to each resident in their own unique ways and . They take the time one on one to see how they can better your situation. Furthermore, there are an advanced number of resources that have helped me to obtain the rest of my high school credits and pursue a job according to my interests. I like the programs at Horizons. The staff cater to each and everyone’s different needs, they listen, reach out, sit down and actually listen to your problems. If it weren’t for Horizons, I think I would be on the streets, in jail or possibly dead. Horizons gives hope and a chance to those who are down on their luck."
James, age 19
"Horizons has helped me gain confidence and motivation in moving on with my life."
"I am an international student currently enrolled in a program of economics at York university. I would like to thank Archana Baker because she's has been here always for me whenever I was facing problems with my previous landlord and even when I needed any kind of help, she was there by my side to assist me. I really appreciate the way she treats me ..even words can't describe the favour that she does for me as I am completely alone and she was the only one who was giving me a helping hand. I will end this note by thanking her again and I know that you are doing a great job and you will continue to"