"Get your stuff, I'm bringing you to a place called the Good Shepherd."
Back in the 1990s, I worked for the City of Winnipeg – 12 hour shifts in a sewage treatment plant. Now, I’m in recovery from my cocaine addiction, but back then I lost everything because of it.
A friend and I were in a van that was travelling across Canada selling goods, but that business folded when we got to Toronto, in January 1994.
I was separated from my friend. He got into Good Shepherd, but I was staying in another shelter. He came and found me and said, “Get your stuff. I’m bringing you to a place called the Good Shepherd.”
Well, after about two weeks at Good Shepherd, we started being the ones who brought up the donuts and coffee for the evening snack.
Back then, the Brothers gave you pyjamas. I was the one who gave them out. There was a rule that you had to take a shower, so I remember, and we gave out soap and shampoo and towels too. They took our clothes to wash them at night; they made sure we were fine. There was only one person per cubicle. It was a good place to stay.
We were allowed to stay for three weeks, then you had to move on. But we were such good volunteers they let us stay a bit longer. I stayed until the middle of March, then I finally found a place.
I’ve been coming here for 17 years, on and off. But I’ve been coming here every day since I moved into the area this past June.
As a single guy on ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program), $464 is the maximum I get for rent. I pay $470 for a 12 by 18 foot room, and anything over the maximum is coming out of my food allowance. Unless you find a room-mate and double up, you just can’t live in an apartment. Apartments are not cheap; they’re $700 or $800 a month. I can’t live with someone so I get a room.
I am here at the drop-in every morning, have my coffee, read the paper. I’m not allowed to cook in my room, so I come back for the meal. I come about six times a week.
I tell people, I have good days every day. It’s just some days are better than good. If I can make people laugh, that’s a good day.
I’m 59 and I’ve never seen another place that serves meals like Good Shepherd does, and the quality is pretty darn good in my opinion. And for the 17 years that I have come here, I have gone up to the volunteers after the meal to say “Thank you.”
In my opinion, I can be equalled in appreciation, but not beaten. Even if there are 800 people in the meal line, not one of them appreciates this place more than I do! I have nothing but great things to say about this place.
Mickey Bodnan, 2011
For the 17 years that I have that I have come here, I have gone up to the volunteers after the meal to say 'Thank you.'
Mickey Bodnan, 2011