Magic, Stratford

"All my life I’ve been treated like a fool. For a long time, I moved through the world believing I was one. I never felt like I belonged anywhere.

I grew up on a farm and was pretty isolated. But a few years ago I moved to Stratford and I met a woman who became my girlfriend. She was attending one of the programs at The Local and I would pick her up when it was done. At first, I just met her there and didn’t talk to people. Eventually I started to realize I liked how I felt when I walked through those doors. Everyone was so positive and welcoming. People remembered my name and greeted me like a friend.

I started going to the community meals. Then I joined the gardening program where I could use some of my knowledge from the farm. I started to grow herbs to make my special homemade teas and served them up at the Market Café on Fridays. I was even interviewed by a TV station when we set up a Mobile Market in a nearby town—not something I would have been comfortable doing before! Now I go to The Local almost every day. I attend programs and volunteer, as well.

Since that first time, a lot has changed for me. People here see something in me that I still don’t really see in myself. I’m valued and accepted for who I am and the skills I bring. I’m worth something at The Local, and I no longer feel like a fool. I belong here.

I’ve even begun to like kale.”