Tent City: hope and help for the homeless

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The goal of the 29th annual Tent City in downtown Toledo is to provide hope and help for the homeless. It happens at what's called the corner of love and compassion.

Stanley Smith was homeless 12 years ago.

"I have a very colorful past. When I got out of prison I said I ain't going back no more. So, I did whatever it takes to not go back," said Smith.

After making that promise, he stumbled upon Tent City with his son.

"Best thing I've ever done in my life," said Smith.

Just like the 800 people there this weekend, Stanley needed clothes, food, medical, and employment resources to help him get back on track.

"I'm a firm believer in giving back for what they've been giving me," said Smith.

Now, he's got a job he loves and comes back here every year to serve.

"For those that want a way out, if they're willing to do the work, I'll show them the way out," said Smith.

He's one of many Tent City success stories. Most of the volunteers once were struggling.

"Just for anyone if you're down on your luck, I don't care what's going on, you can change," said Smith.

A Veterans Matter walk Friday kicked off the weekend-long event. It raised money to house veterans who end up living on the streets. Helping vets and the homeless is a cause close to Ken Leslie's heart.

"That's the elemental level of humanity is feeling like you matter: that you're loved, that you have a place," said Leslie.

He too, once had no where to call home. Leslie started Tent City nearly three decades ago.

"If you've come down here and you're broken the love and compassion can be the thing that changes your life around and give you a future of hope," said Leslie.

A life-changing experience, not just for those in need - but also for those lending a helping hand.

Tent City runs until Sunday at noon. For full event details click here.