Former homeless man pushing a cart across Canada to raise money and awareness

Skid Row CEO wants to help others struggling

Push for change 0:54


A man who calls himself the "Skid Row CEO" wants to bring attention to youth homelessness by pushing a modified shopping cart across Canada. 

"I was a homeless young person pushing a shopping cart around the streets of Vancouver," said Joe Roberts, who says his own personal experiences and recovery underscores his mission to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. 

"I was fortunate enough to have the supports to exit that homelessness and I made a promise to do something to pay it forward."

In 1989, Roberts found himself living on the streets and addicted to drugs. He describes that period of his life as something he will never forget. 

Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts, founder of the Push for Change, was once homeless himself. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

With help from his mother and a police officer, Roberts sought treatment for addiction and started to put his life together.

He went to college and then started a website development company.

"In less than 12 years, I went from pushing a shopping cart to being a celebrated entrepreneur. But I never forgot that promise that I made on that street corner to do something to pay it forward."

Roberts, who gained success in the technology industry and is now a motivational speaker and author, uses his past experiences to help others. 

Still, he wanted to do more.

Four and a half years ago he started the Push For Change, a fundraising campaign that Roberts will now take across the country. 

Joe Roberts

The customized Push for Change shopping cart will be taken to British Columbia.

"For us it's about getting from one end of Canada the other, 9,000 kilometres, but it's also to raise awareness on what we can do to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness," he said. 

Roberts and his support team of four started at Cape Spear on Sunday morning. 

Travelling about 24 kilometres a day, the journey will take about a year and a half to complete with the team-making fundraising stops along the way. 

"Possibility exists inside of each and every one of us Sometimes we need somebody to help open that door so we can find that."