Nova Scotia teenager keeps the memory of his PEI-born father alive by donating clothes to the homeless

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ALBERTON, PEI — Seven years ago, Alberton native Ken Gordon was killed on a Nova Scotia highway, but his family in Tantallon, Nova Scotia — his son Matthew and his wife Lorna Zinck-Gordon — killed him. refused to let his memory die with him. .

Since the death of his father, Matthew, 15, has been collecting clothes to donate to men in need.

“I know (Ken) is beaming with pride,” Zinck-Gordon said. “It’s sad that it took his death to make a difference in the lives of these men, but as I told Matthew, that’s our goal.”

Although Gordon moved from Alberton to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for work in 2005, Zinck-Gordon said he never let go of his ties to the island.

“Ken was a very proud islander,” she said. “Even today people say ‘we can hear Ken talking about those potatoes from Prince Edward Island. “”

In March 2015, Gordon and Zinck-Gordon were driving on Nova Scotia Highway 103, going to see a vehicle.

Gordon had a metal crate in the back of the truck, secured with bungee cords. After taking a ramp on the freeway, he felt the crate move and stopped to tighten it.


“I haven’t seen Ken. I came out and his shoes were in the same place where he was standing, but he was crushed and thrown. – Lorna Zinck-Gordon


While Gordon was outside, Zinck-Gordon stayed in the car, chatting with him through the window.

For a brief moment, as his head turned, Zinck-Gordon heard a boom, and his life changed in an instant. Gordon had been hit by another vehicle.

“I haven’t seen Ken,” she said. “I came out and his shoes were in the same place he was standing, but he was run over and thrown.”

Matthew, then nine years old, was not with them at the time; when he first heard that his father had been shot, he did not believe, at first, that his father had been killed.

“I came home and there were like… 40 people at the house,” Matthew said. “And they told me. And then it hit me.”

Create a legacy

Two months after Gordon’s death, Matthew wondered what would happen to his father’s clothes.

Zinck-Gordon started researching where they could donate the clothes and settled on the Salvation Army Halifax Center of Hope on Gottingen Street in Halifax.

“They are (an) addiction center,” Matthew said. “My dad had a drinking problem – but he got sober… (in) 2013.”

Family friend Reggie Manuel, Salvation Army's Ross Grandy, and Matthew Gordon show off some of the clothing donations they received in memory of Ken Gordon, Matthew's father.  - Contributed
Family friend Reggie Manuel, Salvation Army’s Ross Grandy, and Matthew Gordon show off some of the clothing donations they received in memory of Ken Gordon, Matthew’s father. – Contributed

Matthew remembers his father as a “donor”, always willing to help people and “gave the shirt on that back”. Donating clothes to his memory, he thought, would be the perfect way to honor Gordon.

Although the idea originated as a way to do something nice with her dad’s old clothes, it quickly grew after Zinck-Gordon spread the word on social media.

After a few media reports drew attention to the cause, “it just started working,” Matthew said.

The stories caught the attention of Keith Reardon, a CN Rail executive who spread the word and who this year donated $5,000 to a shelter in Winnipeg and another in Halifax for the campaign. by Matthew.

By the time the clothes were on their way to the men’s shelter, there was enough to fill two trucks.

“The second year we had a full load of tractor-trailers,” said Matthew, who never expected donations to increase as much as they did.

“That’s wonderful.”

A growing cause

Even at first, Zinck-Gordon and his son knew it was a campaign they wanted to pursue every year, ideally around Father’s Day.

After six years of donating clothes, Zinck-Gordon said her “heart is getting bigger and bigger” to see everyone in the community rally behind the cause.

This year Matthew has started the Ken Gordon Society – a registered non-profit – and hopes to find land in the Halifax Regional Municipality to establish a new men’s shelter.

“In Halifax, the Center of Hope is right next door…to a liquor store and a tavern,” said Matthew, who said he was troubled by those nearby amenities.

The plan, Zinck-Gordon added, would provide men in need with shelter, as well as work, counseling and education.

“The biggest thing Matthew believes in is self-esteem and (bringing back) men their dignity,” Zinck-Gordon said. “And hopefully reunite some of them with their families, if possible, without the police, without the social workers, without the courts, without (the stigma).”

Although the loss of her husband is something Zinck-Gordon struggles with every day, she – and Matthew – think Gordon would be proud to see how much Matthew has accomplished over the past few years.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Zinck-Gordon said. “I’m very proud of (Matthew) and I know Ken’s spirit is with him every second of the day.”


Kristin Gardiner is a reporter for the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island. @KristinGardiner

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