The Joy of Respitality

By Candace Stretch, Manager of Supportive Housing and Family Services

The Cridge Respitality Program is a fantastic example of how the community can come together, with joy, to support families in need.
Each month, 20-30 exhausted parents of children with special needs and mental health challenges get to experience the break of an overnight stay at a beautiful hotel. Making that happen for families is quite a process; one that involves many key players. From the family-serving agencies who refer parents to Respitality, to the hotel partners who generously donate overnight stays, to our team of volunteers who assemble gift baskets for each family, to 2 incredibly passionate staff members who bring it all together —  it is a team effort!
What makes Respitality so special is that everyone who participates feels such joy in being able to give. The testimonials below, from individuals and agencies involved in Respitality in very different ways, reflect the incredible value of this wonderful program.
But, always, the true joy of Respitality is the impact that is has on the life of parents. The restoration, hope and rest that Respitality brings to families is a gift to us all! Read what our partners and families tell us:

A lot of our members love your program.  Keep up the great work and thank the ladies that make up those gift baskets!   — Victoria Society for Children with Autism

Respitality is a great community involvement tool for us. It is great to be able to help out families that are a part of Respitality… and to give back to the community.  — Manager of Bear Mountain Resort

Thank you for the amazing respite you provide.  We got to forget all about our grueling life for a whole magical evening.  — Respitality Parent

Computer Mentor for Seniors

By Alison Chamberlain

Misha comes into the Seniors’ Centre weekly to be a computer mentor to our seniors. He assists staff in providing technological assistance to the seniors in the building. Whether it is the senior’s own laptop, computer, iPad, smart phone, printer or other piece of technology, he is booked by half hour sessions to assist in the use, exploration or troubleshooting of these items.

By being very knowledgeable about both the item and how to walk a senior through the steps, Misha helps each senior to engage with it more easily and enjoyably. By helping them, he is allowing The Cridge Village Seniors Centre to support senior access and exposure to technology and our digital world. By taking the time to write down steps for the senior, he breaks the barrier of confusion or frustration with a device and allows them to build confidence.  Misha bridges a technology gap between generations while he gets the chance to engage meaningfully with his skill set as he decides his career path in college.

We are so grateful for Misha!

Clients becoming Volunteers

By Tori Woodford  (Community Program Coordinator with Cridge Brain Injury Services)

Sometimes our clients become some of our most dedicated and passionate volunteers. We strongly encourage our clients to give back and share their stories, passions, and gifts with others. This comes out in various volunteer opportunities our clients participate in. Some examples include:

  1. Jumbles/Comic Cards: Volunteers get together and create word puzzles which are then presented to seniors living at Cridge Village. In the near future these Jumbles will also be a part of a community magazine promoting brain health through cognitive exercises, called MindXMagazine. Volunteers also created comics that were produced into cards, promoting humour and a “lighter side” of life.
  2. Brain Injury Awareness and Prevention: Volunteers join facilitator, Greg Goldberg, on his adventures to various schools where he presents his helmet safety presentation, Mr. Tomato Head. Volunteers share their experiences with head injury.

These opportunities relate directly to our work in brain injury services, because it’s client themselves volunteering. These examples are not part of our regular rehab programming which clients have an expectation to participate in, but instead are opportunities created around client interest and desire. These assignments provide social interaction and cognitive rehab opportunities, while also fostering personal growth, compassion and resilience. And the community receives awareness, education, and products. It’s a win-win!

For more information about our Brain Injury Services, click here.

Gifts that give wholeness

Michelle is the owner of a local gift shop that has faithfully donated their unsold merchandise to The Cridge for many years. This merchandise has been distributed to tenants of Cridge housing (women fleeing intimate partner violence and immigrant/refugee families) , as well as clients of our Cridge Transition House outreach in the community.

Recently, Michelle stepped forward to take on a volunteer role in helping us to distribute donations to clients. She created a beautiful, free “gift shop” called Oasis, that women can come and select items for their home, gifts for their children, and personal items such a jewelry for themselves. Michelle opens the store weekly, and uses her natural sales abilities as well as her huge heart of compassion to support women to select items that will help them to feel proud of their new home, and their new violence-free life.

The difficult journey from violence to safety, from persecution to freedom is paved with love, care, grace, mercy and kindness by this volunteer’s vision and efforts.  She walks alongside us to create success and beauty in lives that are damaged by violence and pain, and in doing so, is helping create a path to health and wholeness.

 

Garth Homer Volunteers

Twice a week three Garth Homer Adult Day Program clients, who are adults living with developmental disabilities, visit the Seniors’ Center with an aide. On these two visits each week they run activity programs for the Seniors such as Wii Bowling, Dice and Bingo. They have been involved in crafts, decorating and social visits as well.

Each participant contributes at their own ability either cheering a senior on, calling Bingo numbers or rolling the dice alongside a senior. They are participants in the programming they deliver and coming to The Cridge provides them with a feeling of connection, friendship and meaningful service. These wonderful volunteers engage with the residents, developing long term service relationships which assist The Cridge Village Seniors’ Centre in providing our seniors with access to mental, social and physical opportunities. It also assists us with our desire to create and maintain meaningful and strong community partnerships which have the seniors engaging with a diverse cross-section of our community.

Working alongside our Recreation Coordinator, these volunteers are a tremendous asset to the care and service we provide to our assisted living clients. It is a wonderful thing to see those with developmental disabilities working successfully for the well being and enrichment of our seniors – helping BOTH to continue to achieve their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical and social potential.

 

Volunteering is life changing

My volunteer experience with The Cridge Centre for the Family Dovetail Program and The Cridge Transition House for Women has been a life changing and fulfilling experience. I decided last year, later in life, that I wanted to make a career change into the social work field. I search extensively to pick an organization that I wanted to volunteer with and I decided The Cridge Centre was a perfect fit for me.

From the moment I contacted Karen about volunteer opportunities, she has been nothing short of wonderful. She has made sure throughout the process that the volunteer work I am doing is both meaningful to me as a social work student, the clients I am privileged to work with and the organization as a whole.

I started my volunteer role at The Cridge Transition House helping with a variety of tasks that span from driving residents to appointments to cooking, cleaning and child care. This original opportunity has blossomed into working with Karen at the Dovetail Program, assisting her with accompanying clients to Vancouver for Immigration and Refugee hearings, attending court with clients and preparing briefings for lawyers to assist in ongoing client court cases. This experience has been invaluable to my training to be a social worker. I have enjoyed my volunteer experience so immensely that I will be doing my first practicum at The Cridge Transition House this Fall.

From Abuse to Respect

by Marlene Goley

Amber tried for years to leave her abusive husband.  It was so hard. There was never enough money and she needed help with the children.  She returned to her abusive husband again and again.  Child protection workers said Amber could not protect her children from witnessing the abuse she endured at the hands of her husband. Her children were removed and put in foster care.

When child protection told Amber that she would likely never have her children returned to her, Amber decided to fight.  She told her husband she was choosing her children over him and got the legal help she needed to get him to leave and stay away from her.  Then she focused on her children’s needs.  She set up family counselling, individual counselling, and accessed all the support she could to put the pieces of her life back together.  It was all too much for her adolescent son who couldn’t believe that he had seen the end of his mother’s bruised and swollen arms and face.  He repeatedly said that he wanted to stay in foster care.  Amber persevered. Visits increased. Amber set firm expectations about how everyone in their family were to behave and treat each other.  There was a lot of testing.  Amber stayed firm in her resolve.  The result? Last month, Amber and her son went to court, together, to request that the care order be removed.  The judge agreed it was time.  Her son returned home happily.  Amber has her family back and they are all proud of their safe, respectful new life.

For more information about our Cridge Transition House for Women

Canada 150: Seniors and Student Story Quilt

by Vicki Melville Bathurst

It was a Canada 150 Celebration, a project to join the generations, the young and the old, to make something that reminded them of being a Canadian. With The Cridge Seniors’ Centre Activity Coordinator,  Alison at the helm, and Nancy as the official quilter, twenty-five grade 4 and 5 students from George Jay Elementary School walked up the hill to The Cridge Centre once a week  this spring  to meet with a group of seniors living at the Centre. Their project was to discover what being a Canadian meant to them. Each was tasked with coming up with their own idea which they would ultimately paint onto a square, to become a part of a quilt.

On their first meetings, the seniors and children poured over books of Canada and spoke about their history. The children were fascinated to hear that many of the seniors were born or came from the Prairies. After pouring over the different books of Canada, they began sketching something that reminded them of what it meant to be Canadian. This was a culturally diverse group of children, some were not born in Canada and a class tally discovered there were 7 different languages spoken in their homes.

For some of these students it would be the first time they had met anyone of the seniors’ generation. I was touched to hear the words “grandma” and “grandpa” being used at the encouragement of the seniors. One student, Mary, independently teamed up with a gentleman for some serious talking. He told me that when he first met her he asked about her parents. When she said that she didn’t have a father, he told her that he lost his own mother when he was 4 years old. That sharing of such an intimate fact made for many long conversations for the two of them as the project continued. Walter, with the gruff voice and “old school” demeanor, worked with the largest group of rambunctious children. It was heartening to watch them all band together around him for farewell pictures at the end of the project.

The final project unveiling included a visit from a camera crew from CTV News and baked goodies from George Jay School. The final 25 quilt squares, one drawn and painted by each student, had been sewn into a quilt and bound with a border of Canadian maple leaves. The students were excited and very proud of their work, and some of them posed by the quilt and were interviewed by the CTV camera crew. “What reminds you of being Canadian?”  the CTV commentator asked. Their answers were varied, only a few the same: A beaver, an orca, the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Ocean. One child had painted the official flower of Newfoundland where her family came from, another a dream-catcher medicine wheel as recognition of Canada’s First Nations. The words First Nations, Peace and Leadership were painted by another. All of the children received a Certificate of Thank You with their name on it, and everyone sat in front of the quilt for a group photo. The certificate read, “In recognition of your willingness and openness to engage, play and connect with new people!  Your creative energy and kindness will always be remembered.”

This project not only opened up opportunities for inter-generational fun, but it also created a wonderful opportunity for children and seniors alike to catch a glimpse of what it means to be Canadian from the opposite end of the age spectrum. We are so grateful for the teachers and students who joined us in this wonderful project!

 

Young Parent Outreach Program

Alison was 18 when she connected with Nicole and The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program. She was pregnant and felt isolated and hopeless. Nicole helped her connect to a midwife and other community supports. Alison had stable housing and was managing all right by the time baby Krista was born. Alison stayed connected to Nicole for support for the next year and then launched onto her own path.

Alison has just recently reached out to Nicole again. Krista is two now and Allison has made some more big changes in her life. She has gone back to school and is planning her career path. She realized that her relationship with Krista’s father was unhealthy and needed to end. He is now out of both Alison and Krista’s lives. Alison wanted some support to help two-year old Krista adjust to this big change so she called on the support that worked for her before – Nicole and The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program. Nicole’s door is never closed and she is always ready to weave in and out of the lives of the young moms who hang onto her number, knowing she’ll be there when they need her.

Neighbour Day at The Cridge Centre for the Family

By Candace Stretch

On May 7th, many of us who live and work in Cridge housing, gathered to celebrate Neighbour Day. Neighbour Day is a Community Action Project of Leadership Victoria which encourages folks to “meet and greet the people with whom we share our neighbourhood, fences, and walls.” What a wonderful opportunity for us to help our tenants across Cridge programs connect with each other!

At Mary Cridge Manor, the Brain Injury Program and the Cridge Dovetail Program joined forces to host a BBQ for the tenants from both programs. They also invited nearby neighbours to enjoy the festivities. There was a lovely neighbourly atmosphere as tenants enjoyed hot dogs and conversation. We are so proud of the unique community we have created at MCM and Neighbour Day was such a fitting way to celebrate that!

At Hayward Heights, the Dovetail staff joined forces with the Seniors Recreation staff to host a party for Supportive Transitional Housing tenants and Cridge Seniors Village residents. It was a fantastic event! A huge turn-out of seniors, tenants and kids came to enjoy donuts & coffee on the sunny back patio. There was beautiful music, courtesy of the fabulous Victoria Mandolin Orchestra, and tons of fun games and activities for folks of all ages. Even though our tenants live right alongside our seniors, many have not had the opportunity to reach out and get to know each other. It was so special to be able to host an event that fostered these connections- there was a buzz about the event that was truly unique.
Alison, one of the Seniors Recreation staff, shared her observations of the afternoon’s festivities: “‘I only live a few steps away’ was something I heard frequently. It was such a neat feeling of shared space! The seniors have said it was an ‘absolutely great afternoon’, ‘fun’, ‘neat to meet everyone.’ A set of kid sisters that had to go home early said, they ‘wish they could come again next time’. It was truly a heartwarming afternoon.”

Indeed, it was a very special Neighbour Day at The Cridge Centre for the Family. This is a tradition that we would like to continue each year. We are so thankful to the Leadership Victoria team for inviting us to participate in this wonderful initiative!