I am 61 years old and was hit by a car at age 15. My spinal cord injury left me paralyzed. I was devastated to know that I would be leaving the hospital in a wheelchair.
Early on I was living on ODSP but decided that I needed a job. I heard about Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) and I booked an appointment with an employment counsellor. I got a job in the mail room at Goodwill Industries. That “six-month contract” lasted for 9 years. They must have liked me. Life was good. I had my own office and I was supervising 12 staff. I was working close to home, I was making money and had full medical coverage. After that, over a period of 27 years in total, I held many positions at Goodwill until they suddenly shut out all staff and closed for good a few years ago.
They still owed me money, so I went to SCIO to ask for help. I was assigned to a Regional Services Coordinator, Sandi, who helped me apply for wage support, write a letter to the Ombudsman about the money still owing from my employer, apply for Employment Insurance, CPP-Disability and ODSP. The Ombudsman couldn’t do anything, and other financial supports took a long time. I started to panic as I owned my own home and I had a mortgage and bills not to mention medical supplies.
I was running out of money fast.
My wheelchair and scooter were falling apart. I thought I would have to sell the accessible house I love. I needed financial support like ODSP. Sandi helped me set up my appointment. At that appointment I was rejected. I was told my EI benefits needed to run out and I had to wait for CPP-Disability before I could be eligible. When these things happened, I was rejected again.
I was rapidly going in debt. I badly needed medical supplies: incontinent supplies, wheelchair, scooter, leg braces, compression socks, my teeth needed to be fixed. Sandi was bringing me donated incontinent supplies. She even delivered them in the rain when she knew I was running out.
I was worried about my health and being able to keep my home. Sandi was determined to find a way to get me help. Ontario Works offered me a one-time payment of $175. I was at a point where I did not believe I would ever get assistance. I was going broke.
Sandi continued to look for a way to get me help. She spoke to the right person at ODSP and got me another appointment. This worker worked with me and told me what needed to be done to be eligible for medical benefits. I did what was suggested and was finally successful in getting medical benefits.
Sandi also referred me to a clinic for help with my bowel and bladder. My bowel routines and bladder infections have improved immensely.
Thank you Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. I will never forget you
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