Unsung Heroes

Let’s face it – cleaning is not a glamorous job. No one LOVES to vacuum or clean the toilet. We do it because it needs to be done. And those who make it their job to keep homes, offices or public spaces clean, rarely get thanked or appreciated for making our lives safer and more pleasant. But today is different.  Today I’m going to sing the praises of some of our unsung heroes who not only do an amazing job of keeping things clean, but they also go way beyond the extra mile to CARE.

Mary and Devin both started working at The Cridge Senior’s Village in 2011. Both spend their days providing housekeeping services to our seniors. As a team, they enter the homes of each senior, not just to clean, but to learn exactly how each senior likes things done. From how a bed is made, to where things belong, Mary and Devin know and care about the small details. It takes time and tact to build trust, to develop relationships and to daily serve a population that is not always easy to deal with. And for Mary and Devin, it’s not just a job – it is an act of love and service.

Last week when Mary and Devin were cleaning one of our resident’s suites, they noticed that she was upset and frightened. They also noticed that there was a suitcase packed and ready at the door.  When they questioned her, they discovered that she was waiting for the police to come arrest her. She had been taken in by the CRA scam and was certain that she would be spending time in jail and she wanted to be ready. Just as Mary and Devin were comforting her and telling her that it was a scam, the phone rang. A heated exchange took place in which Mary told the scammers in no uncertain terms not to call our senior again – that the harassment needed to end. It took some time to convince our senior that she wasn’t going to jail…and that it had all been a terrible trick.

This story illustrates not just how amazing Mary and Devin are, but also the great trust that our senior had that she was willing to share her fears with them. She trusted them to help her – and that is exactly what they did. Not because it was their job or because they had to – but because they cared for her. And THAT is what The Cridge Centre is all about – caring for those who are vulnerable and in need of someone to come alongside them to help them on their way.

We are super proud of Mary and Devin – they are most certainly our unsung heroes!

Breakfast Program: Kevin the King of the Kitchen and Kids

I’d like to introduce you to Kevin. He is 34 and has been living with a brain injury for the past 7 years. Kevin started volunteering at Macdonald House – our home for brain injury survivors – and last fall he moved into our supportive housing. Kevin has been participating in the Bluesheet Clubhouse (a support group for survivors), Kale Kings (a social enterprise for survivors) and most recently with our Hot Breakfast Program. Kevin completed our food services training and has been serving breakfast twice a week at The Cridge Child Care program as part of the team involved with the Hot Breakfast Program.

Kevin is a character! He is a very outgoing and friendly guy – when he was selling chocolate fudge kale cookies at the markets, he was unquestionably our best salesman. Kevin knows how to engage people and draw them in. We knew he would be a terrific fit to work in the Hot Breakfast Program as he also loves kids. Kevin has benefited from this program in several ways. First of all, it has given him structure and purpose for his day: being accountable for his time and arriving at work on time and ready to work is an important part of building his daily routine. Kevin finds it challenging to schedule his time and to ensure that he takes care of the essentials of life (eating especially). Having the responsibility of a job gives him a reason to manage his routine and strive to be productive with his time.

Kevin has also benefited from the program by giving his natural leadership skills a wonderful outlet. He feels acceptance and admiration from the children and enjoys the connection he has with them. This has been a real boost to his self-esteem and confidence. Alongside this, the protected work environment has allowed Kevin to work productively and still be supported to deal with the challenges resulting from his brain injury.

We are super proud of Kevin and the great strides he has taken to make positive choices in his life and in dealing with the effects of a brain injury. We believe that his work with us is merely a stepping stone as he continues to grow and learn new ways of living with a brain injury.

Youth Connection

by Candace Stretch

The Cridge Dovetail Program provides support to the women and children living in our Supportive Transitional Housing. All of these families have recently experienced violence, either at the hands of an abusive person living in their home or through political violence in their home country.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful team of skilled support workers who connect weekly with our tenants. Among the many individual and group activities that we offer our tenants, are programs for the children and youth living in Cridge housing. Susie, our Child and Youth Worker, has a special talent for bringing just the right combination of fun, compassion, and insight to her interactions with our kids.

Recently Susie established a youth group which meets every Thursday evening. She enlisted the help of Isha, another support worker in the Dovetail Program, to co-facilitate. The group is focused on helping these kids to find confidence, friendship, and a sense of belonging in our Cridge community. The group often hang out together here at The Cridge doing activities such as baking, art and video games. But they also love to get out and explore our city together.

Over the years, there have been many successful youth groups established in our Dovetail Program- but this group has been truly remarkable. From the minute they came together, this group of kids seemed to genuinely click. They couldn’t be a more diverse group of individuals- they represent many differences in personality, gender, skills and abilities, cultural background, language of origin, and life experience. But each has had the common experience of leaving violence and coming to The Cridge to seek safety. The group has become a close-knit circle of friends. Susie and Isha have witnessed each member contributing to the group, and taking steps to share their genuine self with each other.

It is a joy to witness the young people in our Cridge Dovetail community coming together in this special way. We are thankful to God!

CHEK News: Vital People

Last week we had the privilege of having Veronica Cooper from CHEK News visit us to film a piece for Vital People about Michael Cridge. Here is the link to view that clip:

Vital People: Michael Cridge

Chatting with Seniors

I’ve made an interesting discovery. I like seniors. Now don’t get me wrong, I never disliked seniors, I just didn’t know too many or get to hang out with them. But since starting to work at The Cridge Centre, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know many of our seniors when I am wandering through their lounge, looking for coffee. We talk about current events, what is happening that day for activities, and most importantly, what’s for lunch. As I get to know them, I learn more about where they are from, what kind of work they did and about their families. We laugh and share a joke and then I  head back to my office, feeling richer for having had those few moments with them.

A couple weeks ago one of the gentleman asked me if I would do a small presentation to a group of seniors about The Cridge Centre — the history and the current programs.  I was delighted to agree. So earlier this week, a small group of us sat together and talked. I shared with them a bit of the extensive and fascinating history of The Cridge Centre and about how the orphans home grew into the wide reaching organization that we are today. As I shared, I could see surprise and interest on their faces — they live here but had no idea what all goes on under their roof. I was asked some wonderful questions, we had a few laughs together, and we all went on our way, feeling more connected not just to The Cridge, but also to each other. What a privilege it was to have that time with them — to share with them but also to receive from them their interest and enthusiasm. I have a feeling that the longer I work here, the longer it will take to get a cup of coffee… there will be so many interesting seniors to stop and chat with. And what a blessing that is!

The Gift of Generosity

Every day at The Cridge Centre, we receive — there are donations of money, articles or items, time, efforts, and prayers.  We are constantly being blessed by other people’s generosity.  It is humbling — and incredibly life-giving. We LOVE to receive — because we also know that it means we can give. We give every day to our children, our families, our seniors, our brain injury survivors, our women leaving relationship violence, our families with children with special needs. We live to give. And we are blessed to do it — even in the midst of trauma and challenges and all the hard stuff that comes with supporting people in need, we KNOW that in giving, we are doing the work we are called to do.

At this time of the year, we see so much more generosity, so many more people reaching out to give, and so many blessings that we get to share. Today and tomorrow are Christmas Hamper days — donors are bringing in the gifts that they purchased for their families… the gifts are being piled high on tables and donors are coming with so much love to give. One donor group provided gifts and food for a family of 6 — including a beautiful new purple bike for a 7 year old girl. When the mother came to pick up the gifts, she couldn’t believe it. Her jaw dropped and she was stunned to realize that they were all for her family.  Another donor group talked about how some of the gifts were bought by families who had been recipients of hampers in the past… and how they were so blessed as a family to be able to help others whose situation they understood. And in the midst of all this generosity, of all these stories, we just receive from the donors and pass on to the families — and are incredibly blessed. We see so much love, so much care, so much generosity. We are truly humbled and honoured by the gift of generosity.

Ride for Refuge

RIDE Logo - Primary (Small PNG)

The Ride for Refuge happens each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving across Canada. It is one of those events that gathers people from all parts of the community together — to walk or ride their bikes in support of a charity they love. It sounds so simple and yet it is an event that has incredible impact. Here in Victoria, over $100,000 was raised for 16 local charities — charities that are working with the displaced, exploited and vulnerable here in Victoria and abroad. The impact is tremendous — lives are being touched, people are being cared for and hope is being given.

 

Here at The Cridge Centre, we are super proud to be the host of the Ride for Refuge. It is an amazing opportunity to partner with other charities, businesses and community groups. We just LOVE working in partnership with other passionate people to make an impact on lives. We are so thrilled when people from the community join us in this passion.  Check out the link to see what MLA Rob Fleming had to say in the legislature. And have a look at just some of the photos of that fabulous day on facebook.

Derrick — from jail to healthy living

Derrick’s Story

by Janelle Breese Biagioni

Derrick is a survivor of brain injury. His story is real. It’s disturbing. It’s heartbreaking. It is also filled with promise because once Derrick received the supports and services he needed, he emerged into the honest, trustworthy, kind and hardworking man that he is today.
When listening to Derrick share his story, one gets the impression that as far back as he can remember his life has been in turmoil and that his adult life was a constant struggle with addictions, committing crimes to support those addictions, and serving time in prison. “The last time I was released from prison before the car crash, I really believed I was done with jail,” Derrick reports. “I was finished parole, living with my girlfriend and her two children and working. I really believed I had done my time and was finished with criminal life.”
Life took yet another turn on May 15, 2009 when Derrick was driving home from work and a 5 ton truck smashed into the passenger side of his car. He went home to his girlfriend who crazy-glued the cut on his forehead. Two days later he went to the hospital; however, Derrick was turned away because of his past history. Within a month, he lost his job, his girlfriend and his home.
Out of desperation… craziness… fear… hopelessness… or whatever else you want to call it, Derrick made the conscious decision to commit a crime so he could go back to jail. He knew he could get help in jail so he did what he had to do. He broke into a Surrey jewelry store and was sentenced to three years.
In jail, Derrick was finally diagnosed with having a brain injury and sent to the prison hospital for a 90 day assessment. After steady improvement over the next year – and with good behaviour meaning he had no write-ups or warnings – Derrick was reclassified and sent to William Head Institution.
“At William Head, I met with the psychologist three times a week, I learned to cook and how to buy my own food,” Derrick recalls. “In preparation for my release, I started to look for community resources.”
Following his release from William Head, Derrick moved to the Salvation Army shelter. After two years in the Salvation Army shelter, Derrick was still unable to work due to health issues so the psychologist helped him to get on PWD (Persons with Disability). Derrick was then accepted into Mary Cridge Manor’s three year program.
Derrick will soon graduate from Mary Cridge Manor. During this time, he has made friends, attended AA meetings, undergone therapy, found work, and engaged in healthy activities. He realizes that this care plan is a lifelong commitment, but for Derrick there is also no turning back!
There are many exciting things coming up for Derrick in life. He is in the planning stages of creating a non-profit recovery house for people with brain injury and other afflictions, such as addictions.

The Cridge Respite Service: Highlighting the Difficult Realities for Parents of Children with Special Needs

 

The Cridge Respite Service is committed to helping families who have children with special needs and mental health challenges find a qualified respite care worker. The parents of these children are truly an inspiration- the daily routine of caring for their kids is one that requires patience, energy, compassion and determination.

Having a caregiver with the training and skills to work with these precious children is a fundamental need for parents. Yet, so often, they are unable to get the support they need as they slip through the cracks of a system that is over-burdened. Here are some examples of the struggles parents face:

  • Rachel is a single mom of 4 young children, 2 of whom have complex medical needs. Recently, she has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and will require intense treatment. Rachel is desperate to go away for a few days with her husband before treatment starts. Even though she has secured a qualified respite care provider through The Cridge Respite Service, she has not been able to secure enough respite funding to pay for this care
  • Lamar is a happy, energetic boy with ADHD. Recently, Lamar’s mother got word from the week-long summer camp he will be attending that his needs exceed the capabilities of just one staff member. In order to attend the camp, he will require an additional support worker.  Neither the camp or Lamar’s mother have the funding to pay an additional worker, and thus his ability to go to camp is dependent on finding someone who can volunteer their time to support him
  • Susan is a single mom who of a daughter with a learning disability and nerve paralysis. Time and time again, Susan’s daughter seems to slip through the cracks of any funding opportunities. The frustration and fatigue that Susan is experiencing is palpable. She recently shared with a staff member: “I think someone needs to point me in the way of advocacy… I’m tired of sitting silently waiting for something to happen!!”  

The difficult reality for these parents is that the systems that are set up to support their children are over-burdened. The pain, frustration and exhaustion that we see in these parents’ experiences is heartbreaking. Yet the tremendous love that they have for their children, and their steadfast dedication to them, is the most powerful and inspiring part of the work we do!

For more information Respite and Respitality Services or Donate Now.

Finding a Home for Refugee Families

The Cridge Centre for the Family’s Supportive Transitional Housing provides low-cost housing to women and children fleeing violence, and immigrant and refugee families, for a period of up to 3 years. Between our Hayward Heights and Mary Cridge Manor properties, we have 44 units of housing, ranging from bachelor suites to 4 bedroom units. The women and children that live in our housing can access the support of one of our Dovetail program staff, who help them work through the pain of what has happened and make plans for a safe and vital future.

The various stories of how individuals and families come to live in The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing are a wonderful example of God’s guiding presence. About a year ago, we welcomed Marnie, a woman who had survived life in a refugee camp in a war-torn country for years before coming to Canada. Marnie settled into life in Victoria and was able to make a connection to our community through the support of her Dovetail support worker and others.

After several months of living with us, Marnie got word that Mary, the woman she had lived with in the refugee camp, had made her way to Canada. She immediately made arrangements to have Mary come for a visit to Victoria. The friendship that Marnie and Mary shared was an incredibly profound thing to witness. From the moment they were reunited, these two friends could not imagine being apart. Through God’s timing and provision, a new unit was made available in our housing. We were able to offer Mary housing just a few doors down from her dear friend.

The chance to be a part of the rebuilding of women’s lives after they escape violent partners or political situations is truly and honor and a blessing to us. The story of Marnie and Mary serves as an example of God’s faithfulness and the power of friendship.