After arriving in Canada as a refugee, Michael* looked forward to establishing a new life for himself, his wife and their newborn child. They were placed in a City of Toronto shelter for families, and once he got settled Michael turned his attention to finding employment.

Getting a work permit was just the beginning of the process. Michael had been a professional athlete in his home country and started playing on a team right after high school. He had no other specialized training, and some shelter residents told him it would be hard finding a job.

Staff in the shelter arranged for Michael to attend an information workshop on Ontario Works employment assistance and benefits. This led him to meet with a caseworker who connected him with volunteer opportunities at local community centres, where he began assisting with recreation programs.

The caseworker also helped him enrol in a coaching certification program so he could get the qualifications required to work as a coach. He was able to attend the course and complete the certifications with financial assistance to cover fees and costs.

Michael now has a full-time job as a coach and instructor with an organization that gives kids from families in financial need a chance to participate in organized sports. He has moved out of the shelter and lives with his family in an apartment.

* Name changed to protect privacy.