From Homelessness to Hope―Tony’s Story

Salvation Army chaplain, left, sits with Tony, right.

Fifty-two-year old Tony was a successful restaurant owner who went from living in a high-end apartment to sleeping in a cardboard box on the streets. Today he has a roof over his head, goals for the future and shares his story to offer hope to others who may be facing their own challenges.

“My problems started in 2016 when road construction started to affect my business,” says Tony. “Customers didn’t want the hassle of heavy traffic and I lost 40% of my patrons.”

Tony went through a grieving process that included lots of alcohol. His dependence on it was disastrous and he lost his restaurant, his finances, his credit and his family. “I lost everything,” says Tony. “And the streets became my home.”

For over a year Tony lived on the streets of Windsor―slept on park benches, in cardboard boxes and ate from garbage bins.

“Homelessness is lonely and scary,” says Tony. “I was chased and almost beaten several times. People popped out of corners demanding to have what was in my backpack. It was rough.”

One day a friend told Tony about The Salvation Army’s shelter. “I was hesitant,” says Tony, “but I gave in because it was winter and my legs were numb from the cold. Having a warm place to stay and meals helped me focus on my situation. I wanted to rebuild my life.”

Tony’s says the shelter provided the stability and support he needed to get financial assistance and a roof over his head. Counsellors provided a listener ear and encouragement. “The Salvation Army gave me the strength to stay hopeful,” says Tony.

Today Tony is sober, volunteering in his community and has plans to take a course in addictions counselling.

“If The Salvation Army didn’t open their doors and allow me to lay my head down I don’t know where I’d be―probably curled up in a cardboard box somewhere―or dead.”