Akwesi* and his wife were devoted donors in their birth country, before they came to Canada with hopes of building a more solid future for their family. Due to unexpected circumstances, they instead found themselves without a home, forced to live in office buildings and shelters here in Toronto. The family, who had once supported so many, was now in need of help themselves.
After the birth of their youngest child, Akwesi’s wife was struggling with her mental health. She was admitted to a hospital’s mental health unit for assistance. That’s when Children’s Aid Society of Toronto entered their lives and connected them, in turn, with YSM.
“It was a very trying moment, it was really challenging,” said Akwesi “The world was collapsing in on me. But I had to encourage myself, I was the one standing there for the kids and their mom. I had to be strong and encourage them. The moment I came in contact with YSM I found relief. They’re like our family.”
Akwesi started working with a Cornerstone Care Manager at YSM who connected him to other programs and helped him navigate the Canadian social services system. Akwesi began attending YSM’s Man2Man group, where male caregivers gather to share their struggles and encourage one another. This group was a huge support to him – finally, he felt a sense of belonging.
With his children, Akwesi started attending YSM activities for dads and kids, including an exotic animal petting zoo, basketball games, family barbecues with bouncy castles and cake baking workshops. He began accessing YSM’s Food Bank and was also provided with clothing, diapers and gift cards for other supplies. Akwesi and his family added their name to the Toronto City Housing lottery, knowing many wait 5-10 years before receiving stable housing. Thankfully however, their name was drawn and now they live in a three bedroom apartment.
When asked about his favourite memory of YSM, Akwesi tells of the Cornerstone Christmas party in 2019. “The whole family danced like never before,” says Akwesi, “We were celebrating my son’s birthday – it was one of the greatest moments of my life. We were so happy.”
Akwesi has experienced, firsthand, the generosity of donors like you. After receiving a laptop through a YSM class, he is now taking an online course, Addiction Recovery for Youth and Families, through a local college. “I believe the society in Canada is giving my family more than enough and we need to give back. That’s why I’m taking the course – to help. There is a different way of doing things here, so I really want to understand and contribute my services. This is the mission God has given to me and my family. We have felt the support of YSM and want to help others.”
Akwesi is continuing to meet with a YSM Care Manager as he and his family work towards sustainable independence and stability. “It’s been awesome, they are open-minded, supportive and encouraging. They’re there each time we call, quick to respond and make sure we’re okay.”
“YSM has been our backbone in Canada. Without the volunteers and donors at YSM, people like us would not survive. It was quite challenging, but we overcame thanks to YSM and others. We give thanks to God for keeping us alive. We’re living testimony.”
Thank you – through your generous support YSM is able to offer vital, wrap-around care for families like Akwesi’s, and help them find their way through challenging situations, to start working towards their goals and dreams.
*Name and photo changed to protect privacy
Learn more about YSM Cornerstone’s Partnership with Children’s Aid Society of Toronto here.