Ontario man treks across Canada to raise awareness of homelessness

Jim Day
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Jason McComb, 37, of St. Thomas, Ont. is drawing on his own personal experience as a homeless person in encouraging people during a cross-Canada trek to give a meaningful hand up to people struggling in life.

Jason McComb knows his story is not the ultimate story of homelessness — just one of many.

Homeless people, says the St. Thomas, Ont., man, each has his or her own baggage that leaves them without a permanent residence.

There is, notes McComb, a “plethora of reasons’’ why some people end up on the street.

It could be a job or a relationship coming to a sudden end. Or the root cause may be a mental health problem or a struggle with addiction.

No two people have fallen into homelessness by slipping down the same dark path. So helping a person get back on his or her feet — and back into a home — requires care and attention to the specifics of each person’s plight, stresses McComb.

“There must be a level of understanding that we are individuals,’’ he says.

“So you have to see there is an individual here (and comprehend) what is broken.’’

Homeless shelters, in his view, are a mere umbrella bandage approach that skirts the real issues that result in many people being without a home. He prefers homeless people receiving a hand up, rather than a handout.

McComb, 37, has spent a good decade “collectively’’ over the past 20 years as a homeless person.

At 17, his stepfather sent him packing.

His mother had already split the scene.

He was alone and lonely and battling alcoholism that began when he was a mere boy. He would later be diagnosed with a manic depressive disorder.

He started sleeping at the home of friends but soon outstayed his welcome.

Suddenly, he was a homeless man, spending his nights sleeping in stairwells or in any nook or cranny where he could find protection from the elements. He started landing himself in jail, intentionally, because he found prison accommodations preferable to his homeless haunts.

For years, he was in and out of homelessness. Today, he is focused on the plight of others.

His initiative called Homeless Happens Helping Hands has him provide donated items such as clothing and hygiene products to less fortunate people, including the homeless.

And two months ago, he set out on foot, with a bulky back pack, on a cross-Canada trek to visit as many communities as he can to encourage people to fight back against homelessness.

He told The Guardian Monday as he was making his way around P.E.I. this week he is thrilled with how well his message is getting out.

He is bringing his insightful perspective on homelessness to media, politicians (he would love an audience with P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie) and community groups.

“I want to inspire people, motivate people, just to take care of the people in their community,’’ he says.

“We are all worthy.’’

 

jday@theguardian.pe.ca

 

 

Organizations: Cross-Canada

Geographic location: Ontario, Canada, St. Thomas P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Jason McComb
    June 04, 2014 - 00:23

    @enoughalready... Typically I don't do this combat comment thing however, you are one of the unfortunates that brought about the necessity for this walk. You sir, have no idea what I am doing and obviously have no insight into me and my efforts. Lucky for your unfortunate soul, insight is free so you can save $0.50 from the valuable insight I loan you! Yes I said loan, I would appreciate it if you passed it on to others you have proven in the glory of all the ignorance you project in just one simple comment that it need be passed on to be valuable. That being said I will at this point extend it to you now with the (seemingly fanatical) hope that you will understand my brain damaged, mentally I'll, homeless extension of insight! I am not out bumming around, I am not asking for hand outs (if you extended your hand to me I would likely slap it and then use it to give yourself a backhand for making the east coast people look like the fool you blatantly like to project you are). Now then if you look into what I am doing (there are thousands of stories done available on the internet you used to look at the picture in this story missing the mark as a result of absorbing nothing from the words)' you will see I discourage giving and/or asking for hands outs cupcake! I discourage panhandling, I also discourage discrimination, stereotypes, stigmatization, assumptions And opinions and of course the imposition thereof! Again, you are the reason I am out here, you haven't a clue what goes on in the life of anyone (gauging the intellect in your comment indicative of as much knowledge as a runt piglet fresh from the womb I would think that includes your own miserable life you hoped would be easier to live as a result of validating the need for my efforts with your ignorance). Anyway I think that just like you aptly titled yourself (obviously you have had enough of yourself already like the rest of us have). I think that is enough from me. Rest well after the last thought in your head is that you need to clear up some ignorance from that shallow mind of yours, the last visual being my $h!t eating grin that came about as a result of being validated by your pessimism thus, turning it into an optimistic result albeit it I had to stoop from being a mentally ill, brain damaged homeless (what was the term bum of an inspiring lad?), to your level I though am ok and have come back up from that level and you're welcome to join the rest of us living human beings up here anytime you choose! With that, thank you Prince Edward Island, this individual with his ignorance, as well as the other few that made effort out of discomfort and ignorance are no reflection of you, that would be stereotyping and well, I am not "enough already"! ;) thank you for having me while I was on the island! And that actually is enough already ;) Jason H. McComb

  • James
    June 03, 2014 - 13:42

    @enoughalready, you have an opinion typical of the ignorant mindset of "i have mine, screw everyone else". Tracey is right,you are an embarrassment. You can become homeless, just like any of us. I hope you do, since life hasn't taught you any empathy for the less fortunate so far. It sounds like you need some hands on experience.

  • enough already
    June 03, 2014 - 06:52

    Boy just what society needs, an inspiration for more people to become useless members of society. Bum around and get hand outs ,a true inspiration this lad.

    • Tracey
      June 03, 2014 - 09:29

      You are clearly not one of the awesome, giving and caring Islanders that people from away talk about. People become homeless for a variety of reasons. You loseyour job, your EI runs out and you have NO ONE to help, you do the only thing you can - survive. Not everyone on the street has substance abuse or mental illnes but a large proportion do. Not everyone is there becaseu they are a uselss member of society. Oone of my good friends lived in her car for a time as she lost her jub and had no one to stay with. She is a fully functionaing member of society as a nurse and has no substance abuse issues or mental health problems. You need to live and learn the old adage of "never judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes". Idiots liek you make me embarassed to admit where I come from.