We all know the trials we endure when dealing with the bureaucracy on little everyday things. Now imagine those trials experienced by someone with no phone, no family, no home, no way to navigate the system. Getting to see a dentist, a job interview, even a haircut, becomes an impossible task. Melody Li recognized this critical lack of access to essential services for those experiencing homelessness and took action.
Melody started as an inner-city teacher in Toronto where every day she was faced with elementary school students living in poverty. Filled with an overwhelming desire to help them, she sought out the solution. She dedicated herself to learning counselling and spent time in a youth shelter working with vulnerable youth. Then came the moment of truth. Through friends who were volunteering in Edmonton, Melody discovered the Homeless Connect model. With the goal of challenging the stigma of homelessness and helping individuals “connect the dots” to end homelessness in their lifetimes, she decided to bring the movement to Toronto.
Melody’s dream resonated in the hearts of countless equally caring people. With the help of selfless volunteers, empathetic local businesses, and big names such as Canadian Tire and Colgate, she has helped over 5,000 guests people experiencing homelessness make nearly 24,000 connections with the essential services they need. Healthcare, housing, employment assistance, job skills training, and more; all offered in one convenient location with the kind guidance of volunteers. When you’re at the end of your rope, a patient listening ear and simple haircut can mean the world. Sure enough, by bringing down the barriers of access, Melody has continuously provided her guests with the support, respect, and dignity that every human being deserves.
Thanks to Melody and her incredible team, Homeless Connect Toronto has become a mainstay of the community. The synergy between all parties creates a community of service that extends beyond the event itself and provides guidance for future efforts and has helped people find permanent housing.