“PAP helped build my confidence and gave me the tools to improve myself for my future and my children.”

Thomas M.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba; I am the oldest of 15 siblings. I lost one of my brothers in a car accident and haven’t spent much time around my father. My mom left my dad at an early age to avoid the gang lifestyle he was living in.

Throughout my time in elementary school and high school I was bullied by my peers. I transferred high schools only to find out I was being forced to restart in grade 9 due to lack of credits. It was at my new school that I began to participate in sports and make new friends. I began to lift weights and found inspiration from various action movies. I joined the football team and made it all the way to the finals. We lost that year, but we still felt like champions.

It was going well until my senior year where I was forced to drop out of school after barely surviving a stabbing. I remember looking up at the sky and saying to myself “well I guess this is it”. I was only in the hospital overnight and snuck out to go back to school the next day, but that only lasted a month before I dropped out. I started working because I had a newborn child to support. I started missing shifts due to my injuries and eventually lost my job.

I spent the next couple of years being homeless and struggling with drinking and other addictions. I was in an out of rehab programs and didn’t have a place to call home. I was living out of a bag of cloths and sleeping at Siloam Mission or out in the cold.

It was at this time that I met a retired military officer that changed my life by giving me the opportunity to join the Canadian Armed Forces. I traveled across the country for my training and began to see a future for myself. Despite my success in my training, I had pending criminal charges that prevented me from advancing in the Armed forces and was forced to find work elsewhere.

Fast forward a few years, I found myself homeless again with 4 kids who were living with their mothers’. I was struggling with drugs and alcohol and needed to improve my life for my children. A friend of mine told me about Pan Am Place and gave me their contact info. I submitted an application and began living in their facility. Pan Am Place got me back into the gym, helped build my confidence and gave me the tools to improve myself for my future and my children.

I joined the fight team and after months of hard work, I became the Provincial Champion in my weight class. I was staying sober and finding work nearby. I was a whole new man and was building skills that would benefit me when I decided to live independently away from Pan Am Place.

There are still ups and downs and at times I find myself struggling to have the courage to keep pushing forward. But thanks to my time at Pan Am Place and the support they gave me, I always find the strength to keep moving forward and to fight harder for myself, my future and my children.