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This is Jason.

Two years ago, Jason was alone, afraid and defeated.  He was also homeless.  After years of family conflict and suffering from mental health issues, Jason found himself on the streets of Guelph, not sure where to go or how to get help.

Jason is not alone.

On a single night in 2015 service providers in Guelph Wellington reported 359 individuals were experiencing homelessness, including 77 youth under the age of 17.  With a lack of affordable and social housing resulting in individuals spending more of their income on housing related costs, the risks of homelessness are greater than ever.  You may believe that our community doesn’t have a “homeless problem”.  But, individuals and families experiencing homelessness locally are not typically found sleeping on the streets – they often stay in local shelters, couch surf with a family member or friend, or find an abandoned building to sleep in.

Luckily, Jason was connected with Wyndham House, a youth-serving agency operating in Guelph for more than 30 years and a United Way funded agency.  Wyndham House staff provide the supports and services needed to help young people aged 16-21 overcome challenging times and difficult problems.  It was through these supports and services that Jason was able to seek shelter in their Long Term Care program, receive family counselling to re-connect with his grandparents and enroll at Give Yourself Credit so he could complete all the credits and volunteer hours needed to graduate high school.  Jason is now living independently and continues to be supported through Wyndham House’s Outreach Programs.  He is an active member of a hobby-oriented community group, and is awaiting his acceptance into the Ways 2 Work program, which will allow him to gain work readiness while earning a wage.  He hopes to one day be a skilled tradesperson.

Finding solutions to the issue of homelessness is a priority for United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin.  We fund many local agencies that are working on the ground with youth, families and adults who are experiencing homelessness to help them break the cycle of poverty and get them in off the streets and out of emergency shelters.  In fact, this year, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin will be providing $750,000 in funding to local agencies working with those in poverty, including food banks, literacy programs, shelters and support services.

Our promise to you is to make sure that your donation goes to where our community needs it most and where it will have the greatest impact.  Jason is an example of a changed life in our community.  And you made that happen.