Second-time participant Elena observed "Strength," the theme of this year's MYTORONTO contest, when she came across a van from the Muslim community handing out food to those in need in Toronto on Queen Street and Sherbourne Street. Being a woman of faith, Elena hopes this picture symbolizes that "if you have the ability to give, please do so and the return will be much greater."
Elena immigrated with her family to Toronto from Russia in 1996 and has been homeless for over 11 years after life presented her with some hardships. She has spent her time going from shelter to shelter searching for a safe haven, which has its own challenges. Despite her tribulations, Elena continues to give what she can and tries to maintain happiness and balance in her life.
Elena hopes to continue her search for a job and a stable place to call home, as well as to continue to give whatever she can to help those in need.