After a month in which he rarely left his rooming house room during the summer of 2002, Ted Pert’s horizons broadened when he joined a neighbour for the Centre 507 picnic at Lac Philippe.

Because he had never been to the Centre, he wondered about “hellraisers” and felt a bit uncomfortable because he didn’t know anyone. “But it was nice to get out,” he says.

A few days later, he joined his neighbour at the Centre on cribbage night. They emerged as the winning team, and Ted was soon visiting the Centre just about every day.

He made a lot of friends at Centre 507 but also began taking advantage of the employment support service, which ended this past June when funding sources dried up.

In group sessions led by employment support co-ordinator Maryl Weatherburn, Ted and others addressed topics like anxiety and pressure in the work world. Ted completed two CVs: one for general work and one for security work, a field in which he has some experience.

Ted says that the income from even a few hours of work can make a big difference. This summer, he worked in security for three days at a canoe and kayak festival. He also works from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., four days a week, collecting and safely disposing of needles and other hazardous litter left behind by drug users and prostitutes in areas they frequent. Once a month, he spends three to four hours helping a woman with work around the house.

But he’s volunteering his time too – helping out in the Centre 507 kitchen every Monday night and serving as a participant member on the Centre’s board of directors. Ted says it’s his way of thanking the Centre, but adds: “I don’t think I could give everything back that they have given me.”

Ted wonders where he would be today without Centre 507. But he doesn’t have to wonder about next year’s trip to Lac Philippe. He’s looking forward to it, and he’ll know just about everybody on the trip.