Stories From Our City | Light Patrol

Youth Experiencing Homelessness Recognize and Share His God-Given Gifts

Story shared by Paula Castrucci, Light Patrol Outreach Worker

One photo of a staff in a banana costume. Another photo of Toronto skyline at night.

Sometimes serving at YU means showing up to work in a giant yellow banana suit.

In October, Paula Castrucci, a Light Patrol outreach worker, donned the costume for a night of fun with one of the youth their team had connected with from a hotel shelter in the city.

It was supposed to be a night of wacky dress-up and candy but when only one youth showed up, Paula and her co-worker, had a really unique opportunity to connect two-on-one.

That night Paula got to know this youth better and found out about his passion for photography. She quickly sent him a picture of her dressed as a banana riding the TTC and he got to work editing it to perfection.

He easily turned the anomaly of her outfit on the streetcar into a photography masterpiece. (See left photo above.)

"You know the feeling I had tonight when I was hanging out with you?” the youth said. “It was like being with family, and it meant a lot to me."

Paula kept thinking about this youth’s photography skills and how they could be shared, and when she was considering a gift for the Light Patrol supporters, she thought back to this photo. She wanted to give something to help her ministry supporters remember the city they were helping and thought a framed photo of the Toronto skyline would be perfect. Plus, she knew just the photographer she could commission to do it.

Tasked with taking a photo that encapsulated how he saw Toronto, the youth produced a beautiful city-scape that featured the CN Tower and Rogers Centre. Getting to take this photo also helped the youth discover more of his God-given purpose. (See right photo above.)

Now, this framed photo and the story behind it sits in homes across the city as a reminder to ministry supporters of the work God is doing with YU. Since then, the youth has also expanded his business because of the confidence and clear purpose he gained from Light Patrol’s support. He’s booked some more photo shoots and is looking forward to more photography gigs in the future.