From Poverty to Purpose

September 14, 2022


Sammy discovered belonging and his true potential with the help of a donor-supported organization

Help change lives like Sammy’s in Winnipeg now.

At Thrive Thrift Shop, Sammy is lovingly known as a shining light to everyone who has had the chance to meet him or work with him.

“I can say so many wonderful things about Sammy,” said Danielle, Thrive’s Supervisor and Volunteer Trainer. “He’s truly a beacon of joy here.”

With such a sunny demeanour, you wouldn’t know at first glance that Sammy has fought hard to get where he is today. For almost 20 years, he wrestled with homelessness and addictions. Due to his schizophrenia, Sammy would often wander the streets and get lost in an attempt to escape what was going on in his mind.

In 2018, Sammy made the decision that he wanted more for his life and began looking for a change.

“I needed to build myself up from falling,” he said. “I was tired of living at shelters.”

Sammy visited Volunteer Manitoba and they told him about Thrive Thrift Shop, a United Way Winnipeg donor-supported organization located at 555 Spence Street. Volunteers are able to gain employment references, fulfill mandated court orders and obtain income through Employment and Income Assistance.

Sammy happily joined the Thrive volunteer team and began cleaning, sorting items, steaming clothes, and assisting with other duties wherever he was needed. He quickly became a pillar of the store’s volunteer staff and has worked three days a week ever since.

“He’s very adaptable, consistent and reliable,” said Danielle. “He enjoys any task and is always ready to help.”

For a long time, Sammy felt like he didn’t fit in anywhere. Because his schizophrenia often causes him to express his feelings and thoughts in different ways than others, he said people weren’t always patient enough to give him a chance. Working at Thrive finally gave him a sense of belonging and a loving place to find his voice again.

“I feel good all around,” Sammy said. “Thrive gave me my pride back. I have unconditional friendships and a reason to smile.”

Since finding Thrive four years ago, Sammy’s life has truly changed in big ways. He is now sober and has a home at Madison House. He is on a new medication that is helpful in managing his schizophrenia. And he hopes to find employment one day soon, now that he has gained employable skills and a newfound belief in himself.

“Thrive gave me my pride back. I have unconditional friendships and a reason to smile.”

He also recently expressed interest in joining the Men’s Support Circle, a group through Thrive where anyone identifying as a male can gather to listen to one another, learn how to navigate challenges in healthy ways and experience further personal growth.

“I am so proud of him, and I’m blessed to know him,” said Danielle. “Thrive has given Sammy the strength to now look further into his future.”

Sammy says places like Thrive are so important because they give people like him encouragement and a reason to keep going as soon as they walk through the door; an opportunity that can change their life forever.

“Thrive gives everyone a chance to succeed and be the best they can be,” he said. “They gave me an opportunity to achieve my goals. They gave me purpose.”

As of late, Sammy has also been very determined to grow his musical talents. Ever since Danielle gifted him a keyboard, he’s been dedicating his free time to practising. He is also riding his bike more than ever.

“I’m always smiling now. I’m a superstar and I know I can do anything.”

Help change lives like Sammy’s now.


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