Way back in 1999, our good friend Jonathan first came to Sanctuary, and all of our lives have been forever changed. When he first heard about Sanctuary, he was staying at Seaton House—a men’s shelter in Toronto. He had become friends with Donald Sturrock—another precious man who became our current kitchen manager, and who was also staying at Seaton House at that time. Donald had already been to Sanctuary a few times, and shared about his positive experience with the welcoming, family atmosphere.
To Jonathan, the idea of being part of something bigger than himself felt so right. And when he first stepped foot into Sanctuary, he said he felt a good vibe right from the start. The staff he met that day eventually became mentors because they were so easy to spend time with and talk to—whether the conversation was light, or leading into deeper, more difficult topics. For the first time in a long time, Jonathan felt like his voice was being heard.
“My life is so much better now than before I was part of the Sanctuary community.” —Jonathan
Since that first day, Jonathan has become an integral member of the community. And, over the years, he has been well-supported with whatever he’s going through—from getting help with his housing situations to having the knowledgeable support of a nurse at health-related appointments.
When we asked about his thoughts on the arts programming, meals and community gatherings at Sanctuary, he shared his appreciation that Sanctuary is so inclusive. “My life is so much better now than before I was part of the Sanctuary community,” he said, adding that it meant a lot to him, and that he isn’t isolated anymore.
For the past 2.5 years, Jonathan has been working at Switchback Cyclery—Sanctuary’s bike shop that launched in 2013. As he endeavours to help “propel community” through his workplace, he’s discovering the joy and dignity that comes from having a meaningful and purposeful occupation. “When I had jobs before, I was just doing it for the pay cheque. But at Switchback, I want to be with the people I work with because we really care about each other. I feel renewed because of the people in my life now.”
We are so thankful for Jonathan just for being himself, and for everything he contributes to Sanctuary. Thank you, also, to everyone who makes this place of belonging possible.