An Ontario woman has changed a homeless man’s life after giving him an opportunity to get off the streets and earn a living by working on her farm.
Three weeks ago Danielle MacDuff saw the man, Brian Bannister, panhandling and reading a book, when she approached him and started a conversation, CTV News Toronto reported. The pair spoke for nearly a half hour before she offered a job on her farm, which he could start the following day.
“It floored me,” Bannister told CTV. “It just came from the heart with her and I got to thank her every day.”
Bannister says that he has overcome addiction, survived abuse, and lost one wife to cancer, and another in a crash. At the time MacDuff approached him, he was living in a shed.
“He’s so kind, compassionate, he’s amazing with my children, my animals,” MacDuff told CTV. “And his willingness to help me on the farm is very, very much appreciated.”
As of January 2023, Toronto had more than 10,000 active homeless people, according to government data. The vast majority (85 percent) of the city’s homeless population are male.
Toronto officials report that on an average night, 4,434 men, women, and children are using an emergency shelter, as calls grow for local government to declare homelessness a health crisis.
After hiring Bannister, MacDuff reached our to her local community to raise money for him to get a hotel room and for food and clothes. She also got him the first haircut he’s had in two years, as well as a phone.
On the farm, Bannister now works with other staff to care for 200 animals.
“It’s overwhelming. I can’t believe anyone would care for me this much,” Bannister says.
Bannister and MacDuff have now become good friends, and MacDuff says she’s thankful that so many people came together to help.
“If we could get everyone off the street ideally that would be my one wish, but it takes a lot of people to come together and that is what has happened for Brian,” she said. “I think that’s why we’ve come so far in such a short time.”