Chance encounter inspires musician to crowdfund for homeless man

Flautist Patricia Creighton is launching a crowdfunding project to help 26-year-old Kevin Ogilvie get off the streets of Halifax.

By Rebecca Brown

Kevin Ogilvie plays with his daughter, Isabella. (photo courtesy Kevin Ogilvie)
Kevin Ogilvie plays with his daughter, Isabella. (photo courtesy Kevin Ogilvie)

A well-known musician is doing what she can to better the life of one homeless man.

Patricia Creighton, a flautist with Symphony Nova Scotia, is launching a crowdfunding project through Indiegogo to help 26-year-old Kevin Ogilvie off the streets of Halifax.

“I’ve given homeless people money before, but Kevin is the first homeless person who’s really given me the sense that he wants to get off the streets,” says Creighton.

Ogilvie has been living on and off the streets of Halifax for the past 10 years. He says that when he was 16, he was kicked out of his parents’ home just outside the Annapolis Valley for being rebellious.

In an effort to provide Ogilvie with a warm place to stay, enough food and the resources to land a job, Creighton has set a 30-day goal to raise $5,000 through the crowdfunding site. Fundraising is expected to begin on Tuesday.

“I am so grateful for Patty. I have never met anyone like her,” says Ogilvie. “I mean, who would do this for someone they just met? Nobody has ever done anything like this for me.”

Creighton, who is also a teacher within Dalhousie University’s department of music, says it was a chance encounter that brought the pair together at a gas station on Bayers Road on Feb. 24.

Creighton says she was filling up her car with gas when she heard Ogilvie yelling, ‘Why can’t people be kind to each other? Why can’t people help each other out?’ and felt an urge to help. She approached Ogilvie and asked to hear his story.

“I had just spent my last night at the shelter I was in and had no idea where I was going next,” says Ogilvie. “Patty seemed genuinely interested in helping me.”

That night, Creighton took Ogilvie to the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth and paid for him to spend two weeks in the upstairs hostel.

Ogilvie stays at the YMCA on South Park Street (Rebecca Brown/Peninsula News)
Ogilvie stays at the YMCA on South Park Street (Rebecca Brown/Peninsula News)

Since arriving at the hostel, Ogilvie is making an effort to do better for himself. He goes to the public library to search for employment and is looking into getting his Grade 12 education.

“I kept looking for red flags, but he was so grateful,” says Creighton. “All I could go on was my own feelings.”

Ogilvie says it was the lack of guidance and abusive conditions which he experienced at home that caused him to fall behind in life.

“We see a lot of kids who come from broken families where there wasn’t much stability,” says Marianette Bryan, co-ordinator at Phoenix Youth homeless shelter. “It can have a lasting effect on the child and cause them to fall through the cracks.”

The 2013 Report on Housing and Homelessness in the Halifax Regional Municipality shows that since 2009 the number of people staying in homeless shelters has increased from 1,718 to 1,816.

The money raised will also go to support Ogilvie’s 1½-year-old daughter, Isabella, who lives with Ogilvie’s estranged girlfriend in Halifax. Ogilvie says that he plans to buy diapers and new clothes for Isabella with the funds from the crowdsourcing project.

“Isabella is my world. I want to give her the type of childhood I never had,” says Ogilvie.

Creighton has produced a short video about Ogilvie’s story titled “Pay it forward; Homeless in Halifax” to accompany the crowdsourcing project. She hopes people will feel moved by the video and make a donation to Ogilvie.

“I still cannot believe how much has come from meeting Kevin,” says Creighton. “I never thought I’d feel so compelled to do something like this. But when you meet someone with his spirit, all you want to do is help.”