It's easy to forget sometimes, even as we work with clients who are moving from poverty and instability to independence who sometimes still need the support of our sister food ministries in the city, that hunger is a very real and present concern for many people in Victoria. The demand on the Mustard Seed Food Bank is up 10% this month, and other service providers are reporting a similar increased demand for meals and groceries.
With this in mind, The Coalition to End Homelessness has created a list of available holiday meals over the Christmas month, as well as a list of places people in need can receive food (both groceries and meals) ongoingly.
- Food in Victoria (list accurate as of December 9, 2011)
- Holiday Meals (list accurate as of December 9, 2011)
Please share these resources with people you know who may need the information. And please contact Shannon at (250) 995-6419 if you would like to hear more about how you can support Cridge clients in need of food, toiletries, and other necessities of life.
This morning we held the first annual 'Stuff the Stocking for Respitality' fundraiser, and what an event it was. When you schedule a community event from 7:30 – 10:30 in the morning, it's a bit of a question as to who will show up. And when it's a brand new, never tried before event, the question looms ever bigger as the opening moments approach. Once again, the community and our generous and faithful supporters came through.
Guests enjoyed the beautiful music performed by Pat Shumka, pianist from Cordova Bay United Church, and Elizabeth Skilling, a classicaly trained opera singer. These women gave so beautifully not just of their time but also of their talents, and it was appreciated over and over again. So many of our guests intended to donate & run, but lingered to enjoy the music.
The delicious Christmas treats were a hit, of course – from a bagel with cream cheese to a decadent brownie, or perhaps just some fruit and yogourt donated by Country Grocer and accompanied by hot apple cider or fresh coffee donated by Caffe Fantastico.
Two beautiful gift basket door prizes were also a hit, and we're certain that the winners will enjoy the many treats from Bungalow and Butchart Gardens especially in the coming weeks.
But the real magic of the morning was in the joy of giving and sharing. There was amazing energy in the room as staff, clients, society and board members, volunteers and our invaluable community supporters all came together for one purpose – to make a difference for the 400+ families supported by The Cridge Respitality Service.
At the end of the day, more than $7800.00 – that's enough to support 83 famlies in the program for one year – was given. What better way to celebrate the season than to make a difference for so many families.
Our special thanks to all of the event sponsors who made the event so successful
And thank you to representatives from the Chateau Victoria and the Harbour Towers, two of our invaluable accommodations partners whose support year round – as well as on this special occasion – makes such a difference.
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If you believe in coincidence, this is a poignant one – tomorrow, December 6, is both the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Cridge Transition House for Women and the 22nd anniversary of the massacre of 14 young women at L'École Polytechnic in Montréal.
Since 1991, by act of Parliament, December 6 has been recognized in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. While it's an important and solemn day, for the staff and volunteers of The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW), every day is one of awareness and action.
On Friday, December 2 the CTHW hosted its annual Christmas party, which brings together current and past clients, community supporters, staff, and volunteers.This year the party was grander than ever, in keeping with the significant milestone of the 20th anniversary.
Amidst the joy, more than one former client was heard saying "thank you, you literally saved my life." Representatives from The Soroptimists Club and The Westshore Quilters Guild were on hand to see first-hand the difference their ongoing contributions to the clients make. Santa and her elves appeared, with toys for every child and treats for every woman there.
The sense of celebration was palpable, and yet underneath it all is a sobering awareness that The Cridge Transition House for Women continues to serve hundreds of women and children escaping domestic violence every year, and even more families are saved through the House's Outreach Service. Violence against women continues to be an issue in our society, 22 years after Marc Lepine, the lone gunman at L'École Polytechnic, was decried as an aberration.
The Cridge Transition House provides an essential service to women and children in the Capital Region – and beyond, when required. Each December we celebrate those whose contributions help us continue to serve, and reflect on the women and children who continue to need the safety availalbe through our doors.
“Thank you for rides, smiles, pies, hugs, pillows, silences, dishes and affirmations!
Thank you for being understanding, generous, kind and approachable.
Most of all thank you for letting me just talk and get things off my mind.
Signed, A Forever Grateful Former Resident”
'Breaking bread' is a phrase that conjures so many feelngs and images – it indicates fellowship, nourishment, and sharing. It's a comforting statement that goes beyond mere food to taking care of one another in community.
Each week, Cobs Bread bakeries everywhere support up to seven local charities with the gift of fresh bread. At The Cridge Centre, that bread fills the pantry at The Cridge Transition House for Women, is delivered to The Cridge Dovetail outreach and The Cridge Brain Injury community support clients, feeds Supportive Transitional Housing families, is offered to needy senior and childcare clients, and is taken to Mary Cridge Manor for the brain injury and women's and family residents there.
The fresh, fragrant bread – including fluffy white bread, hearty whole wheat, and toothsome ryes, some in loafs, some in buns, and sometimes sweet treats – is not an afterthought or cast-off leftovers. Cobs' giving plan is an integral part of their corporate structure. They make this bread with giving in mind.
For some of our clients, the ability to rely on a regular delivery of fresh, healthy bread provides immense relief to tight budgets. As food costs continue to soar, especially for staples such as bread, this donation plays an ever-more important role in keeping children fed.
Thank you, Cobs Bread, for your commitment to the community and for your ongoing and faithful support. We look forward to that yummy Cobs smell for many days to come.
This summer The Cridge Centre for the Family made a new friend – Bungalow, a charming home and gift store in Estevan Village in Oak Bay. Bungalow began donating some of their fine house wares, stationery, jewelry, and ornaments after Assistant Manager of Women’s & Family Services, Candace Stretch – who also happens to be a regular customer – shared some of the work her department does in supporting families.
Bungalow's gifts bring joy, beauty and hope to our women and children at The Cridge Transition House for Women in welcome presents, birthday presents and Christmas surprises. The jewelry and scarves featured strongly in presents at the Mother's Day tea party for residents of The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing, and parents of children with special needs will find humour and encouragement in the replenished stores for Cridge Respitality baskets.
As Candace Stretch, Assistant Manager of Women's and Family Services said to Michelle of Bungalow:
Wow! What a wonderful couple of weeks it has been since we picked up the amazing donation from you. Just wanted to pass along an informal THANK YOU!!!
The beautiful things that you donated went in several directions…
- The Respitality Service took items that will fit into the gift baskets which go out to families of children with special needs
- The Transition House took the beautiful artwork, so that we can update and make the house more of a home
- And the women of our Supportive Transitional Housing program were invited to come “shopping”… they had such a wonderful time selecting lovely things for their homes. One woman had tears in her eyes as she said “All these beautiful things for our homes that we could never afford ourselves”
Michelle and Graham have given several times, and the ongoing difference they make for our women and families is immeasurable. If you happen be Bungalow this Christmas season while doing your shopping, please pass on our gratitude to Michelle and Graham, and let them know what a business that cares for the community means to you.
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Today I attended the local National Philanthropy Day events: a breakfast, a workshop, and an evening gala. In the morning workshop, Andrea McManus, one of Canada's top fundraising professionals, made great distinctions between philanthropy, development and fundraising, and she emphasised how important it is that we focus on the former.
It sounded good, but I honestly didn't quite understand her point. This evening, as I watched the awards presentation and listened to the gracious recipients, the penny dropped, and I suddenly realised what "philanthropy" truly is.
When we think about philanthropy, we tend to think of the Carnegies and Rockefellers who created the first libraries, concert halls and museums across North America. More recently we think of Bono, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates – men who have made large amounts of money in their chosen fields, and now are re-focusing their energies on redistributing that wealth in humanitarian works that matter to them. That is one style and form of philanthropy, but only one very narrow interpretation.
A quick linguistics lesson that had me understand: the word "philanthropy" is composed of two Greek roots philos and anthropo. Philos is one of three Greek words for love: agape, God's love for us; eros, physical love, and philos, brotherly love. Anthropo is the Greek word that refers to humans as a group, as in Anthropology. Philanthropy, then, is a brotherly love for humanity – not individual people, but people on the whole.
Suddenly, I realised the theme of the day, and how we live it out each day at The Cridge Centre. The National Philanthropy Day theme of 'Change the world with a giving heart" is completely consistent with our guiding thought "… Because Love is the Bottom Line." Without love, all of our actions, all of our services, all of our events and communcation are meaningless.
It also gives me a whole new reading of 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
We appreciate your gifts of time, of talent, and of treasure. And we accept them all as gifts of your love.
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program has help this month in providing portable, practical support to the over 30 client famlies thanks to Saferway Driver Training School. From mid-October until December 15, 2012 Driverway will be accepting donation of non-perishable food items at their office. All donations will go to The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP) to support young families in meeting their basic needs. Everyone who donates will have their name entered in a draw for a $100.00 Saferway Gift Certificate.
Clients of YPOP are frequently balancing school, work and parenting commitments on limited finances. Our outreach worker devotes much of her time to driving clients on group discount shopping trips and to the food bank, and having an emergency supply of food, toiletries, and diapers available for clients as needed can often make the difference for parents just trying to make it until the next cheque arrives.
On behalf of the clients of YPOP, a huge thank you to Saferway Driver Training, and to everyone who gives to the food drive.
UPDATE: Saferway delivered a bus load of donations to The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program on December 16. And CHEK News came down to report on the delivery.