This is Ron.
Ron’s story, as he tells it, began at age 15 when he took up drinking to fit in with friends.
Over time he became addicted and ended up living wherever he found a place to lay his head. At one point, “home” meant seeking shelter beneath the St. Paul Street Bridge. Ron decided to get sober after 30 years of “ending up all sorts of places [he] didn’t wanna be. [He] had had enough”. Despite giving up alcohol, he still struggled to make ends meet until he met Kyle and Ada, staff members at Start Me Up Niagara (SMUN). Ron first met with Kyle to get himself housed and on the right track, Ada is helping him stay on that track by connecting him with important services like Canada Pension.
Ron is a senior who lives on Old Age Security which he was able to apply for, along with other government benefits to which his is entitled. The Income Matters program at SMUN gives him the opportunity for assistance in any issues related to his income. “My income matters because without income I have problems. I need help with the problems and I come here and get it.” explains Ron. It is a mundane chore for many, but to Ron and others like him, arranging for government benefits is not an easy task. Homeless and marginalized individuals often have no identification, no bank account and no online Canada Revenue account: essentially, no way to receive funds. The Income Matters program offers people the opportunity to drop in and get the help they need to secure income such as income tax refunds, Canada Pension Plan payments, Trillium benefits and GST rebates.
At 7:30 every morning, Ron now volunteers to come in to SMUN to put the coffee on for staff and the friends he has there. It has been a part of his daily routine for the last five years, ever since he was able to secure housing and a steady income. It is his way of giving back to an agency which has transformed his life.