Finding Community

November 25, 2019 | By: United Way Waterloo Region Communities

For years Mike lived on the streets, but age was catching up with him. He found belonging and community at a United Way-funded drop-in centre.

“On the street, I became an easygoing, loveable guy,” Mike says as he talks about his experience of homelessness. “I walked everywhere with a shopping cart and collected scrap. But it got to a point where I was getting older and couldn’t walk around pushing carts. Plus, I was lonely.”

“It’s hard to be alone in a big city. If you don’t have a place to go, you’re a lost soul.”

Mike decided to check out a United Way-funded drop-in centre after hearing about it from a friend. “My life is much better now,” he says. Staff in the program helped connect Mike with other supports, including housing and addiction services, but they also helped him find belonging.

“Coming to the drop-in centre has changed me,” says Mike.

“This place has become my community and my family—it means I don’t have to spend all my time alone in my apartment. I think it’s important to have places to go to as you get older.” – Mike 

This is the impact of donations to United Way. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Mike has the opportunity to help others and no longer lives in isolation.

“The drop-in centre helped me learn to cope with people who have their own problems and can be easily triggered. Now, others come to me when they want to talk about a problem. I’m helping people too.”

With so much experience behind him, Mike has this advice for others:

“Have compassion when you see people out there who have problems. Offer a few nice words instead of turning a blind eye. Who knows—by making somebody smile, maybe they’ll make somebody else smile. And if everybody starts smiling, life gets better.”


For more information about United Way Waterloo Region Communities and how you can support our community, please visit, call us at 519-888-6100, or email



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