Youth Voices

The Impact of oneROOF

At the lowest point of my life, quality help was nearly impossible to find. As with many of the youth that pass through the doors of oneROOF, having hope in the future is not something that crosses your mind when you are enduring unimaginable hardships.

I had a bad run of luck that forced me into circumstances that are difficult to talk about, even to this day. It has taken me over a year to be able to write this testimonial. I share with you now in the hopes that I can positively contribute to other success stories, whether it be with the youth in dire need of assistance, or the amazing program and personnel in Reaching Our Outdoor Friends.

Here is my story.

I was raised in a stable home environment, with excellent guidance and support. This situation was to change very quickly as I turned seventeen. A disagreement over religious views ended with me being excommunicated from my entire family, all of my friends, and the only way of life I knew. In one day, everything I knew was gone. I was lost.

For the next few years, I strived to gain acceptance from new found friends by partaking in parties and other social venues. This lifestyle left me feeling empty, and not in correspondence with the direction I had been raised. This led to massive feelings of guilt. The guilt led me to escapism with alcohol and drugs. The issues deep down were only exacerbated. I tried filling my life with other successes people hold dear, like financial well being, interpersonal gains, or relationship status. None of these pursuits brought any kind of happiness. This negative cycle continued for years.

All it takes for someone to go from riches to rags are a few months of bad luck, and bad decisions. I found myself without housing, without support of any kind. I was alone. I was homeless.

At first I tried finding accommodations with some of the local shelters. I was scared for my well being and what little personal properties I still retained, to stay anywhere near those places. This resulted in my trying to find shelter on the streets. To be able to endure these ordeals is something I would never wish on anyone. I have huddled in a garden shed with only a summer sleeping bag at -30 degrees. I have slept in construction site outhouses to survive the cold and wet weather. I have gone 5 days without food, only to be reduced to finding edibles in garbage. The extremes that people will go to survive are well documented in war films, but it is an experience that none of us ever think that we will be a part of. This ignorance has been bled from me in the worst ways I thought possible. This hopelessness and lifestyle continued for a year.

I found myself travelling to Kitchener, my birthplace, in the hopes that I could achieve some kind of peace and solace. Starting fresh, being renewed in my life. This is when I was introduced to Reaching Our Outdoor Friends.

My initial impression of the environment and staff at oneROOF were that of knowledgeable, neutral, and empathetic people who genuinely care about the well being of their clients. My trust in people was at an all time low, having met so many bad people during my journey through the nine circles of homelessness. Writing this now brings tears to my eyes in remembering how they take strangers in, and do everything in their power to help us, the poor, lost souls from any background.

My recovery would take years, and through the entire process, oneROOF was there to be a cornerstone in rebuilding my life. They helped me address the issues and root causes of my problems. I had times when I would stumble on my path of redemption, however, the support of the staff and facilitators were unwavering.

Without oneROOF I don’t know if I would be alive today. That is the most difficult thing I’ve ever said. If they weren’t there to help me stop my downward spiral, I honestly believe I wouldn’t of made it. I owe them my life. My debt of gratitude will extend throughout my life to reciprocate the support, however my first step is starting with this letter.

“To the staff, and organizers of ROOF: Without your tireless dedication and support, I would not be here today. Thank you so much for everything. I will always treasure your commitment and efforts to help those who are in need.

Since my recovery over the last 3 years, I have found my soul mate, I have found purpose and success in work, and I have found peace.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it will inspire others to recuperate, to help, and to find their path in life.”


“I would like to say thank you to all the ROOF and PAR staff, you are amazing and wonderful people. You guys have helped me out a lot, you have amazing resources. All the staff that I’ve met are very easy going and whenever I had a problem I could come and talk. I’m a little sad that I’m leaving, but ROOF has impacted my life a lot to help me better my life.

I would just like to say thank you, once again and hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year,”



Today is a huge day at RNGTF! We’re holding our Graffiti Jam to help raise funds for the gym and a portion of all proceeds will be going to ONEROOF.

Well, ONEROOF holds a special place in my heart. I was once homeless for a period of time when I was a teenager and I really struggled to create a life for myself. Bombarded with negativity and followed by a lot of pain I ended up living out of abandoned buildings, off of peoples couches and doing what I had to do to just feed myself. I was alone and I was desperate.

ONEROOF which was then just ROOF provided me with food and a helping hand while I fought to get through to the next day. It was this kind of kindness and positive energy that inspired me to work as hard as I could to build a life for myself.
I promised myself that I would give back to them and everyone that helped me in the KW community, I am now living up to that promise. My hope is for RNGTF to be a part of the community, I want to be able to help whoever I can with the gym. I want to build and support those who need a helping hand, just as I did so many years ago.

My goal is for everyone to understand that limitations only exist in our minds. We can change the world, change the lives of others and help each other when we decide to KNOW NO LIMITS.