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‘We’re meant to connect’: Oshawa, Ont. man counters holiday depression through volunteering

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Oshawa man counters holiday depression through volunteering
WATCH: It may feel like "the most wonderful time of the year" for some. But for others, it can be filled with loneliness and depression. One Oshawa man has found a way to thwart the holiday blues. Aaron Streck reports – Dec 20, 2019

It may feel like the most wonderful time of the year for some, but for others, the holidays can be filled with loneliness and depression. But one Oshawa man has found a way to thwart those blues.

“Just another day,” said Kevin Owens, a volunteer at St. Vincent’s Kitchen.

Christmas used to be a tough time for Owens.

The 46-year-old lived on the streets for a number of years and often suffered from depression during the holidays.

It wasn’t until he started volunteering at St. Vincent’s Kitchen three years ago that his life started to take a turn for the better.

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“Because I have no actual family around — so this is like my family: the patrons that I’ve met, the other volunteers — I can relate to some of the people that come down here being homeless, depression and all that,” Owens said.

“So it’s good for me to be able to give back.”

Click to play video: 'Overcoming holiday depression'
Overcoming holiday depression

Karen Tobin’s parents helped start St. Vincent’s Kitchen and she is thankful it has brought Owens joy.

“He was down on his luck, he came here, he saw love, he had a good meal and it’s picked his spirits up,” said Tobin, another volunteer at St. Vincent’s Kitchen.

“He feels worthy. He feels part of the community, and he is — he always was.”

Dr. Wendy Stanyon believes what Kevin is doing is soup for the soul.

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“We’re meant to connect. That’s a huge part of our mental health, so how can you do that if you don’t have extended family, you don’t have perhaps a lot of friends?” said Stanyon.

“Get out and interact with people within your community and volunteering, you’re giving of your skills so you feel useful. You’re contributing something.”

Owens plans to continue volunteering his time at St. Vincent’s Kitchen, giving back to those in need not only this holiday season, but for years to come.

Click to play video: 'Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness'
Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness

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