Humans of United Way – Mario’s story

The first time I came to The London Coffee House was about seven or eight years ago. I lived with somebody who was really moody and he was having a bad day. And I thought, ‘well, the Coffee House has moved down to Hamilton Road and I hear they’re having chili.’ So, I came by walked past it two or three times, then I ran into Krista who works here. She said, ‘oh, we still have some,’ and she bought me a bowl of chili and we talked. Pretty soon, the Coffee House became like a second home to me. 

I used to work as a chef at a restaurant. At the time, I was losing my sight bit by bit because of glaucoma and then they said it wasn’t safe for me to do that anymore. I went from being a chef to being a nobody. 

Losing my sight was difficult. But the hardest part for me was adjusting. I was struggling and I felt like giving up. I’ve had people knock the cane out of my hand, I’ve had people push me, bump me. For a long time, I honestly started to feel like people really didn’t have any caring in them. 

I was told a lot that I couldn’t do things anymore because of my sight. Once I started coming here, I was told anything’s possible – and I believe that. Because of this organization, I am a somebody. The staff talks to us and makes us feel we’re safe. There’s no one who’s going to hurt me. Coming to Coffee House made me realize there are people who care. When I was struggling and felt like giving up, they were the inspiration to keep me going. They’ve been there for me in so many ways. I love them all and, honestly, I’d give my heart for them. 

United Way Elgin Middlesex supports 41 local agencies that reduce and prevent poverty, address basic needs, and provide housing stability and homelessness prevention.

If you or someone you know is looking for basic-needs supports in your area, contact @211Ontario to be connected with local resources that can help.

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