At a time when so many families are struggling to get by, compassion and empathy can go a long way.
When Jason Ladouceur, 41, first spoke about his family’s financial struggle to raise awareness about the rising cost of living, he says he never expected it to touch people in the way it has.
“My daughter’s smiles will keep me going the rest of my life, but just hearing from other people that you are doing the right thing or feel like I’m doing the right thing — just the compassion and the sympathy is the biggest part,” he says.
Ladouceur first spoke to Global News in late November about the impact the rising cost of living was having on his family as a stay-at-home dad taking care of two young children with intellectual disabilities.
Since then, the Barrie, Ont., dad has received multiple messages from people looking to help financially and share their own experiences and words of encouragement.
Ladouceur takes care of two children aged nine and 10 with intellectual disabilities and a wife with a respiratory illness.
While he used to run his own renovations company, he became a stay-at-home dad several years ago to take care of his 10-year-old daughter, who has severe autism requiring 24-hour care.
“A long time ago, it used to be hard for me (because) I always felt like I was constantly explaining my story to every new person I met,” he says. “I always felt that I had to pour my heart out to get my story out, to say this is why I can no longer work, this is why I’ve got to be at home looking after my family.”
He says hearing the response from people who read his story has been overwhelming, also coming at a time when they are also dealing with his youngest son experiencing multiple seizures.
“The more people that reached out and said, ‘You are a great man for doing that,’ or ‘I can understand why you’re doing it,’ or ‘I don’t know what I would do if I were in your situation.’ It was all very touching.”
Ladouceur received several messages on Facebook as well as emails, all from people wishing to remain anonymous.
“It was very uplifting just knowing that they’re going through the same struggles.”
While he says the financial contributions — totalling roughly $2,700 — have helped them get caught up on bills and buy a few extra Christmas presents, it’s the compassionate response and words of encouragement that have meant the most.
Ladouceur says he heard from other parents who have children with learning disabilities as well as people sympathizing with his family’s situation as the cost of living continues to increase.
“The biggest part was just hearing from other families in our situation, who do have kids at home that have special needs, and they know the pain and struggles that we go through, and the one common thing was none of us would change it for the world.”
He says that talking with other families reinforced how grateful he is for how close he and his family have become. Even though they can’t afford some things, Ladouceur says what matters most is that they can all be together around the dinner table every night.
He also spoke about the pressure many parents can feel wanting to provide for their family.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m a burden on the government by taking social services that other people or kids could use. It is just never a way I plan on living our life. I always wanted to be able to provide for them; I always wanted my wife to be a stay-at-home mom, and for me to provide everything on top of that, unfortunately, it never worked that way for us,” he says.
Following the response to his story, Ladouceur hopes it helps people be more compassionate to one another, noting you never know what other people are going through.
His story comes at a time when many organizations that help people in need are seeing significant increases in demand for their services.
Food banks across Canada say in some cases, food banks are experiencing a doubling of those in need due to higher food costs.
The Barrie Food Bank had a 94 per cent increase in October visitors compared with the same month in 2022, while Waterloo Region’s and London’s food banks both saw a 37 per cent increase in October from the year before.