‘These people are hurting’: N.B. man walking the streets to help those in need

Click to play video: 'Moncton man dedicates himself to helping city’s homeless population'
Moncton man dedicates himself to helping city’s homeless population
WATCH: A Monton man is dedicating his life to helping people living on the streets find food, shelter and sometimes even reuniting them with their families. Shelley Steeves reports. – Sep 19, 2023

A Moncton man is dedicating his life to helping people living on the streets find food, shelter and sometimes even their families living across the country.

Armed with a roller backpack and armfuls of support, John Renton of New Brunswick said he hits the streets of Greater Moncton every day without fail. “I know these people are hurting and hurting badly and I have been in similar situations,” Renton said.

A survivor of drug addiction, Renton said he is now dedicating much of his life to helping those living on the streets.

“I walk the streets probably three times a day, seven days a week,” said Renton as he was handing out food and treats and picking up discarded needles to keep the people he calls “his friends” and the community safer.

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Renton has started up a Facebook page called “The Ragged People.”

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“I have a lot of friends and supporters on my Facebook page that provide me things to help people: blankets, food, water,” he said.

Most importantly, he shows them empathy, said Debby Warren, executive diretor of Ensemble Moncton.

“Someone like John comes along and does not judge and tries to let people know that people do care,” Warren said.

“They need a shoulder to cry on,” Renton said. “They need a hug.”

That’s especially true for those who are separated from their families, he continued.  “A lot of these people are from Ontario, from Nova Scotia, from Alberta.”

By building trust, John said that he has been able to reunite some people with their disconnected relatives. “A man who is in his early 20s asked me to have a look for his foster family that he has not seen in years and I managed to find them.”

Sydney Rowe, who has been without a home for 10 years now in Moncton, said she has formed a friendship with Renton. “It is not his responsibility, but he makes it his responsibility and making us a priority where other people don’t is kind of a beautiful thing,” she said.

Renton welcomes people from across the country who may be looking for their loved ones to reach out to his Facebook group. Going it alone, there’s no way he can help everyone but he says he can try to help as many as possible.

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“Helping hands is better than no hands at all,” Rowe said.

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