Matte Black was only 15 years old when he was kicked out of his house. He had nowhere to go. Life on the street – finding food and a safe place to sleep — was a daily challenge.
Then, there’s the emotional upheaval of being young and homeless.
“Thirty per cent of the week is spent, as a youth, kind of breaking down,” said Black. “Whether you acknowledge what it is that you’re hurt about, you’re hurt.”
The one thing that kept him going was his music. Black said his guitar and song writing helped him get through the hard times.
WATCH ABOVE: Matte Black describes what it was like to be homeless and living on the streets at 15 years old.
He admitted coping and trying to survive also meant being involved with drugs and time spent in jail.
After nine years of being homeless, Black lost 10 friends to life on the street and he had lost his hope.
He decided he would play one final gig and later that night, he would end his pain and his life.
“In my mind, I had already planned out that when I was done, I was gonna go to a hotel and do whatever it took to basically end my life,” Black said. “But, as I stepped off the stage, JB was there.”
Black had no idea that in the audience was Adrian “JB” Homer.
JB told Global News the decision to give Black a chance was an easy one.
“Sometimes when you see someone that you believe in, you don’t have to really wait or ask,” JB said.
“You just know that you see something in somebody and just gotta take that chance with people sometimes,” he added.
According to Black, the most important thing JB did for him was to believe in him.
“At the time, I wouldn’t have trusted myself with – any of that equipment. I wouldn’t have trusted myself with a lot of stuff at that time,” said Black.
Within two years, Black owned his own recording studio and home. But it wasn’t enough for Black.
He wanted to do more, so he started Heroes in Black — a non-profit organization that helps homeless youth.
“Our main goal is to rebuild, inspire and employ homeless youth,” he explained. “And we have many different programs aimed at, you know, customizing a plan for them. You know, what do they want to do? What’s their dream? What industry do they want to get into?”
WATCH ABOVE: Matte Black, who was once homeless, explains how the non-profit organization, Heroes in Black changes the lives of homeless youth.
In just three years, Heroes in Black has helped 50 homeless youth find a job, through a program called Hero Training, and by connecting entrepreneurs and business professionals with homeless youth.
The organization and its volunteers have also fed close to 3,000 people through its Hunger Heroes initiative, a partnership with Hero Certified Burgers. What started as a one-time event has turned into a monthly event; handing out food, clothing and blankets to the homeless.
“Not only does he do things that are great, he inspires other to do great things as well, and I think that is the most heroic thing you can do,” said Dante Dante Di Iulio, marketing specialist for Hero Certified Burgers.
The organization also offer homeless youth an escape from the devastation of life on the street, offering camping trips, emotional support and so much more.
Black and his co-founders hope to open a youth centre and keep expanding and doing everything they can to help young people fulfill their dreams and get off the streets.
WATCH ABOVE: Matte Black has dedicated his life to helping homeless youth, he discusses if he feel like a hero.
As for Black, he’s reconciled with his family and he and JB continue to be in touch.
Black comes a family of successful musicians and artists — and he and JB discovered they actually had a family connection.
As for the role JB played in Black’s remarkable journey, JB is proud of Black, “well, you know, Matte’s a hero. He has a big heart…What I’m seeing, I’m very impressed.”
Black still credits JB for changing the course of his life and he keeps working to change the lives of others.
WHAT MAKES AN EVERYDAY HERO?
There are many people trying to make a difference who rarely receive the media attention they deserve. Everyday Hero is our attempt to provide better balance in our newscast. We profile Canadians who don’t go looking for attention, but deserve it. People who through their ideas, efforts and dedication are making a difference in the lives of others.
If you know of an Everyday Hero whose story we should tell, share the information with us by emailing email@example.com