Michael’s Story: Coming Full Circle

Michael is a familiar face at both Coast’s Clubhouse and Resource Centre – and his warm smile is infectious. 

In his role as Peer Support Worker, he’s come full circle from where he started. Today, he acts as a mentor and support to other folks who need it. He takes them on group outings or meets them an individual basis depending on their needs.

He’s specifically assigned to help those starting out their employment journeys with Coast’s Street Clean team. Having started out on the team himself, he knows the challenges and can guide them.

“Being able to do something for other people. It’s very nice.” he says.

A long journey

For as long as he can remember, Michael struggled with his mental health. He refers to it as “having bad thoughts” about himself.

“Pretty much my whole life I felt isolated – and I didn’t want to be me. It was lousy but it was the 1960’s. You didn’t tell people you wanted to die. You couldn’t.”

Michael had years that were financially very successful and secure. But then – in his own words – he’d “go off” for months at a time.  

I was broke, homeless, alone, afraid, and on the streets. I went onto income assistance and they put me in a tiny run-down apartment. It was awful – like something out of Dickens. And that lasted for three years.”

Michael would go for long walks just to get away from where he was living.

One day he ran into someone from Coast’s Street Clean Team. Intrigued, he asked about it, and found about Coast.

“They did everything. Without Coast in my life, my life would be as it was before I came here. It would be dark, lonely, scary. The light came on inside me that day when I walked into the Coast Clubhouse.”


As a Peer Support Worker, Michael is a mentor to members of the Street Clean Team, where he himself used to work.

He connected with Coast, received a mental health diagnosis and the medication he needed. He starting work on the Street Clean Team:

“It was wonderful. So much more than a job. Giving me some responsibility, having a timetable, having something to do. I hadn’t worked in seven years.”

“After that, Coast helped me get decent housing. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s quiet. I’m still amazed that I’m doing so well”.

Making a daily impact

The stability of a home gave Michael the headspace to take on Peer Support Training – where he learnt how to use his lived experience to benefit others.

He feels he’s come full circle:

“I’m able to help people who are new to the Street Clean Team. I go around with them on their route, make sure they’re fitting in, listen if they have any needs that they’d like to get help with. We had one guy who was homeless, I was able to get him into housing.”

And, every day, his actions make a difference.

“One of the clients told Michael that he was having a hard time finding a doctor’s office. He’d been trying for weeks with no luck and it was making him really anxious. So, the very next day, Michael decided to take him on transit to his doctor’s office, and the accepting him. The client was so grateful. That’s just one of Michael’s successes, and the impact he’s having.” says Rick Minhas, Acting Program Manager, Transitional Employment.

“The most important thing Coast gave me, is the ability to feel gratitude. Such a life-changer” Michael concludes.

Transitional employment and Peer Support Training, along with many other support programs, are funded entirely thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you.  

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Your donation to Coast Mental Health Foundation provides essential housing, support, and employment services for people with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our community – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work.



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