My KLINK story is not just my own, but of my family, since we have all, at one time or another, had very different places in the St. Leonard’s Society and KLINK stories.
In 2010, my partner was incarcerated and our family was fractured. I was suddenly raising three children (two of whom have special needs) on my own. When he was released, (when things are “supposed to get better”), things fractured further, including our 7 year old son making 2 attempts at taking his own life which resulted in my partner reacting emotionally and breaking his parole thus receiving a breach charge which sent him back to prison. In December 2012 he was released and I honestly had no hope of him staying out. Our first try had failed so dismally and I had no reason to believe that this time would be any different.
I have never been so happy to be so wrong in my life.
Upon his release, his PO set him up at the Day Reporting Centre at St. Leonard’s Society of Toronto. My husband was offered a place in the KLINK program and was enthusiastic to be able to get help finding employment. He has always been a person who worked, but the jobs he got were menial, very little pay, no benefits, not exactly what a man raising a family needed. KLINK helped him from the beginning, with educating him, helping him with writing a better resume and finding an employer who understood his situation and was willing to give him another chance.
St. Leonard’s Society also provided us with a place for supervised visitation which meant my three children and I could spend a few hours every Sunday interacting with my husband. They also provided an amazing supervisor who went above and beyond, helping our family navigate the parole system, helping deal with family issues and general counselling when we needed it.
In November of 2013 I was in an accident and badly injured. As a result of this, I could no longer work at my club security job (which required long hours of standing and the ability to be physically prepared for confrontation should the situation arise). I had to go on OW. The decrease in my income meant that I lost my apartment and the children and I had to move into a homeless shelter in May of 2014. My partner was working and helping out as much as he could; it just was not enough to keep us out of the shelter.
I felt hopeless, and extremely guilty, I felt like a failure. During the time we were homeless I would drop in at St. Leonard’s and see our supervisor (even though we were allowed to see each other unsupervised by this point) and he would do everything he could to help my family, from apartment searching, filling out subsidized housing applications, to job searching. I remember the day I got a text from him asking me if I was able to do sales and, if so, he might have a job opportunity for me. I was so excited. It was the first ray of sunshine my cloudy life had seen in a long time. I applied for the job and found out it was for KLINK Coffee. I could not have been more pleased, my husband had done the program and I knew the great work that KLINK and St. Leonard’s were doing because I had seen it for myself. I was thrilled to be hired doing sales for KLINK. At the same time, my husband took the hand up that KLINK had given him and moved on to a job that was in his former field. And a month later, we signed the lease for our new home. To say that KLINK and St. Leonard’s changed our lives would be a massive understatement. To say they transformed our lives, that they gave us our lives back, would be more accurate. KLINK really does change lives, it changed my husband’s, it changed my children’s and it changed mine. There are not enough words to adequately express the gratitude my family has towards St. Leonard’s Society of Toronto and the KLINK program.