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Jeff

Jeff wanted to be able to share part of her story. This was recorded August 26, 2019.

I’m an honorary Rotarian I received the Paul Harris fellowship (thats a humanitarian award) they give out three of those a year across all of Canada which makes me an honorary Rotarian I got that for work I did in Sudbury. I really went crazy when I got clean for those 6 years. But um, yeah. So there’s that and working for the Salvation Army as a case worker.

I’m probably a lot different then people here in some aspects but not in all, I still have my addictions that i fight with every day. 

Well, I’m not a people pleaser but I’m a social worker at heart. That’s what I always try to do is to help out I get that same feeling, you care about peoples well being and try to help out where and when you can, I try to do the same thing just right now I do it on a different page. 

This [tent city] is much healthier then my last home. It was full of bed bugs, mould, and a very aggressive and bullying property manager and those were a few things I do not deal with. There were people dropping from fentanyl all day long. I had to bring two different people back to life.. and I just couldn’t deal with that anymore. 

I’m a cancer survivor right now, I had lung cancer two years ago. They operated on half my lung, took it out. 

It’s in my lymph nodes, and those kind of conditions just were not healthy for me to live in that. 

It was a choice for me to be here, I mean yes I could have kept the $600 mouldy room in a basement which is incredibly.. just.. obscene.

It’s just completely obscene for that room for that amount of money and those conditions. I chose to be here where I’m much healthier, in a lot of aspects much safer. We take care of each other here for the most part. I’d say this is safer then any of the ‘crack-shacks’ or any of the really dive-y room-y places around town, much safer! 

And I cant access the shelter. For my self, I have some very post-traumatic stresses, some very severe post traumatic stresses, that as growing up in places like this.. I’ve been in and out of places like this since I was 15 [shelters], with a lot of abuse in those things, so I don’t use them. I can deal with abuse. But why should I have to? 

I’m quite capable. I’m quite “highly-functional” as some would say. I do have my.. well, I’m on ODSP for a reason. But I’m what they call highly functional. I am capable of getting a job, its just that whether or not I can maintain the job at this time, and thats a big thing. 

So you get a job, but then you loose a job 2 weeks later.. how does that effect how you feel inside and about who you are? 

I probably had literally over 300 jobs in my life. A lot of them because my mental-state or how I get along with people, there’s so many different reasons why.. And I’ve had very good jobs! I’ve worked for the Post Office, I’ve worked for Bell Canada, I ran a company after I worked for the Salvation Army in Sudbury and ended up as a caseworker. 

 

I managed three different buildings in downtown Sudbury and one of them was an off campus student housing for Laurentian University, and I had parents coming in and interviewing me because I was the manager of the building and they want to know how their kids are going to be looked after because I’m the single point of accountability — and the parents just loved me! I did that for two years after the Salvation Army. 

As I said, I have my own addiction problems. I hit that bump in the road, so here I am for now. Its not where I’m going to stay forever, I’m going to come through the other end of this and hopefully continue off what I like doing, and that{s helping other people! That’s what does it for me, its like that spark inside. 

 I didn’t say earlier that I’d given a kidney away to a total stranger, it was part of why I won the Paul Harris award. I also sat on the Homelessness Committee for the City of Sudbury. I was there as a former homeless person and as a building manager of the City at the time. We were responsible for dispersing over $750 000 worth of funds within the city to organizations and they couldn’t be used for payroll or stuff like that, it had to be solid stuff.. down payments on houses, or refurbishing what they already had.. which didn’t really strike me as right because I mean.. $750 000 but your only doing infrastructure on what’s already there, you’re not making anything new. For $750 000 you could’ve put a bunch of down payments on a bunch of different places with low rent and do the mortgages off the low rent and pay for them. I brought this idea up to the City but they didn’t like it very much. It didn’t strike them.