Street Health Client Stories – Marsha

“My parents could not afford their mortgage anymore, so they split, and I began to move around a lot.”


Marsha has many fond memories from childhood. “I enjoyed school, I was mostly into gym class, doing volleyball, track, cross country, I was very involved with sports, I also liked geography, woodworking, and creative writing.”

Marsha grew up in the Ossington Rusholme area of Toronto with her mom, dad, and two siblings.  Marsha’s Dad worked at Massey Ferguson as a tradesman, and her mom worked at Royal York Fairmont Hotel. While both her parents worked full-time, the rising cost of living made it increasingly difficult to pay for necessities, and eventually, her family could no longer afford to pay the mortgage.

“I moved around a lot, my parents sold my house because my mom could not afford the mortgage anymore, and this led to my parents splitting up.

After years of moving around and changing schools, Marsha ended up separating from her parents and moved into Kennedy House, a group home in Scarborough. This was a difficult transition but Marsha credits the staff at Kennedy House for creating a welcoming and safe environment. She has many fond memories from living there and keeps in contact with the kids she used to live with to this day. “My time at Kennedy house was great, staff were nice, I met a lot of people and they really supported me”

While her time at the group home was positive, Marsha always dreamed of having her own place and living an independent life. After Marsha completed high school, she ventured out on her own and moved into an apartment in the city with a roommate, this is when things took a turn for the worse.

Life had taken unexpected turns, leading her to lose her apartment with nowhere to call home. Marsha felt isolated and disconnected from the world, especially from her family, whom she had not seen since her time in the group home.

“I was living with someone at the time, and that didn’t work out, I was in a bad situation. The landlord evicted me because he thought I wasn’t paying rent on time, and I ended up without a place to stay. They changed the locks and all of a sudden I was homeless.”


Marsha’s days were now filled with uncertainty and survival as she navigated life on her own. Challenges with her mental health became more arduous at this time. Marsha had begun seeing a psychiatrist, and after a series of evaluations and discussions, she received a life-changing diagnosis: schizophrenia.

Marsha’s journey with schizophrenia was just beginning, and she knew it was going to be a long road but always held onto a glimmer of hope. With the guidance of her dedicated psychiatrist, Dr. Lemke, Marsha began to slowly put the pieces together and do her best to regain stability.

Marsha began seeing Dr. Lemke regularly, a compassionate and knowledgeable psychiatrist whom Marsha credits with helping her get on her feet. Dr Lemke worked closely with Marsha to develop a treatment plan tailored to her needs.

As Marsha continued her treatment, she faced the challenge of finding stable housing. Unpredictable symptoms and financial constraints made it difficult for her to maintain a steady job. Dr. Lemke recognized her struggle and recommended that she explore the Ontario Disability support program ( ODSP)

” Dr. Lemke helped me a great deal, we have a great relationship, she helped me to apply for ODSP because of the barriers I was experiencing.”

Not long after she applied, she received the news she had been waiting for, her ODSP application had been approved. It was a turning point in her life. With the financial support she now had, Marsha was able to secure a small but comfortable apartment on her own.

Marsha’s newfound stability allowed her to reconnect with her family who she had been estranged from since her time in the group home. She missed them a great deal and made it her mission to reach out and initiate the healing process. Through open communication and understanding, Marsha gradually rebuilt her relationships with her parents and siblings. Marsha now had the strong support system she had longed for.

Marsha is in a good place these days, with the support of her counselors and the strength she found within herself, Marsha had not only stabilized her own life but also decided to give back. She is currently in the process of becoming a peer worker, using her own experiences to help others facing similar struggles.

Marsha’s journey was not without its ups and downs, but through it all she continued to persevere. With each passing day, she has gained a deeper understanding of herself, her condition, and the strength she possesses within.


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