William Cole's unfortunate life circumstances kept him on the streets for 15 years. At 31 years old, Cole says he lost all enthusiasm for life and lacked self-confidence. But he says he also knew he deserved something better than the life he was leading. When he heard about Adult Ed, he knew this was his chance to turn his life around.
Cole says he first heard about Adult Ed when he started using the free shower facilities at Gathering Place Education Centre.
Cole's ambition to improve his future circumstances through an education was always in the back of his mind, so one day he decided to visit the centre.
Because he was struggling financially, the free education Adult Ed provided was a huge break for him.
"Ever since I started at Adult Ed, I have never looked back," says Cole.
While he worked hard to complete his Dogwood, he was encouraged by staff to apply for welfare support while he studied until he could get a better paying job.
But then, after months of progress, Cole's life took a drastic and unexpected turn. He found himself dealing with health issues and had to postpone his education. Despite the setback, Adult Ed staff had planted in him seeds of hope and change. This February, not too long after cancelling his initial round of courses, he returned to Gathering Place.
"Adult Ed gave me hope," says Cole. "It has given me the tools I need to deal with real life. It's a welcoming environment and I get to design my own schedule."
Staff at the centre say Cole is on a self-pace program which allows him to focus on other areas of his life that need attention and healing.
The flexiblity and respect afforded to him at Adult Ed have made a big impact on the older student.
"You meet students that are easy to relate to," says Cole. "Gathering Place encourages respect. I can be myself. They just get who I am."
To learn more about Adult Ed, click here.