The people we serve have rich stories of their own that they generously allow us to share from time to time. Here are some of those stories.

Honouring Beacon Community Service Workers

— Sarah Smith (Manager of Seniors’ Services)

Last month our Recreation Coordinator, Alison, planned a fantastic event to honour the Beacon staff members who provide all of the personal care to any of our residents who need it here at the Seniors’ Centre. This includes bathing, dress assist, laundry, breakfast preparation, medication management and so much more. Many of the Beacon staff have been here since we opened and they are an integral part of our team.

There were cupcakes galore, flowers and gifts for the Beacon staff, sincere statements of appreciation from many who were in attendance and a photo booth!

The feedback from all was fantastic – way to go Alison!

Gracious Gardeners

So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.    (Jorge Luis Borge)

Dirty fingernails and calloused hands are not usually a source of pride…but in our Dovetail program, there is a new group who compares how rough their hands are. Who are they? A small but mighty group called the Gracious Gardeners. Our outreach worker, Beata, has long dreamt of a project to encourage our women to plant gardens. This year, together with Marilyn, four women came together to dream about small gardens in the townhouse backyards. A few phone calls later, and there was sponsorship available from Tuf Turf and Rootcellar – both businesses excited to support women growing food for their families. So soil was delivered… ground was dug… seeds were planted… and women worked and watched and waited…

Each of these women have left abusive relationships – each one has left their lives behind and started out new, facing incredible challenges and hardship. They know what being transplanted feels like… they know what losing their roots is all about. And they also know about growth, about regeneration and about blossoming in a new place. Out of their hardship has come great resilience and incredible beauty.

The process of planting and tending a garden has been not just been therapeutic for these women, but it has also become a source of great pride and enthusiasm. The women have felt that sense of accomplishment in having created something – and watching it grow and produce beautiful and edible things. Some of the women have never gardened before – and needed help to know basics such as when to harvest the lettuce.  Others have come back to gardening with a long forgotten passion and the hidden knowledge that gardening brings healing. Dotted around the property are little sanctuaries of growth, healing and beauty.

As the gardens grow, so do our women. What started as a group of 4, has doubled in size. And as the gardens grow and produce food for the families, we see women growing and healing. And that is what being a Gracious Gardener is all about.

YPOP and Community Supports Make a Difference to a Young Mom

Lisa is a young mom with a brand new baby.

The father of Lisa’s baby had violently abused Lisa and as often happens, the abuse had gotten even worse during Lisa’s pregnancy.

Lisa knew she could not live with him when their baby was born.

Lisa had grown up in foster care and the only person she knew to turn to for help was the social worker she had known as a teenager.  The social worker got Lisa to contact Nicole at The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP).

Nicole and Lisa worked fast!  Within a month Nicole had helped Lisa find housing and get what she needed to furnish her new place from Anney’s Closet in Colwood.  Nicole also helped Lisa create a safety plan to keep herself and her baby safe.  This included getting Lisa to Legal Aid so she could get a lawyer to help her apply for a Protection Order and guardianship of her baby.  Lisa got all the baby clothes she needed from the bountiful stash in Nicole’s office, thanks to the generosity of Sailor Jack’s in Vic West. With all of the trips they made together in the Cridge YPOP van, Nicole took the opportunity to teach Lisa how to correctly install a baby car seat.  It was a very full month!

Lisa and Nicole stay connected as Nicole continues to support Lisa to be safe and to be the mom she wants to be for her baby.  There are many young moms like Lisa who are connected with Nicole in The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program. The months are always busy and in the words of one young mom, “Nicole has been there to support me from the beginning of my struggles and through all of my most recent successes.”  We wish Lisa many successes!

 

Bluesheet Angels deliver strength, courage and kindness

Greg Goldberg

Terry Driscoll was a client years ago at The Cridge Centre for the Family. Unfortunately, the family have had a very difficult time this past year. Their son died suddenly and Terry is now in long-term care. Cheryl has been completely overwhelmed with being responsible for everything. The Blue Angels, a group of enthusiastic brain injury survivors residing at the Mary Cridge Manor, who are always looking to lend a helping hand, went out and did some yard work for her today. Cheryl was very pleased with their efforts.

Thanks Blue Angels!!

New Beginning for a Survivor of Relationship Abuse

 

It’s that final slap in the face. That final feeling of humiliation, that final ending that kick starts a whole new beginning. The one you knew would happen but in a way you least expected. You feel like you can’t breathe. You’re so raw. You feel like everything you thought you had is gone. You feel alone, desperate, scared and confused. You believed the words – the promises, every single one of them. You gave all of yourself just because you truly believed even though you knew it was wrong. You wanted the change so badly that you became completely blind. You owned their mistakes. You owned their pain and you accepted all the “it’s your fault this happened – I feel pain from you too- – if you just opened your ears. Why are you so difficult? You are just like every other woman. You’re crazy. You you you…” And you tried to change to be what he wanted. You tried to change and in the end you lost yourself.

So finally you set up a wall. A big wall. But you opened a window and let him speak – and you listened to his words again and you trusted his promises again. And you got burned for the final time. At least that’s what you think – that’s how you feel, but he did you a favor. He showed you that your strength and determination to change your future was too much for him. He showed you his true colors. And even though right now you don’t see it – you will. I promise. That final ending had to happen exactly the way it did.

Because you were you. Empathetic, compassionate, caring, trusting, loving and encouraging. All things a narcissist is not able to be or see. They feel – yes, but they are also very self-centered and insecure (yes, that’s actually the truth) and they cannot handle having someone strong in their lives. Often they will seek “help” through friends or recovery centers and groups – and they will use their recovery terms they have learned as a way to hurt you just a little bit more. And even though you are stronger each day you still feel the pain of the burns — because you know that he never actually meant any of the words he said. Once you became strong enough he had no use for you. Blessings happen in the most bizarre ways. Thank him when you are comfortable enough to do so. Until then cry, be sad, feel hurt, maybe feel some anger (it’s hard for some of us to be mad), be confused, ask questions to yourself and create the healthy answers.
Seek support from friends, don’t rush any grieving. Be with the pain and heartbreak. You tried to end the unhealthy relationship you’d lived for so long, so many times, but you had too much love for your abuser that he had to finally do the job. It’s time to build yourself up, it’s your time to shine! You are worth everything! I believe you are perfect. I believe you are amazing. I believe that you deserve nothing less than a completely loving relationship. Find yourself.
That dark hole has a ladder, you just have to find it. You will. And us survivors will be in that hole helping you make your way out – we will help you with encouragement. With love, with no judgment. We will support you because you deserve that❤ keep going angel. You are ok ❤ you are not defined by the abuse you experienced.

— Anonymous

 

If you need support to leave an abusive relationship, click here for more information.

 

 

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.

This is what INCLUSIVE looks like

In our child care program we have many special children — in fact, they are all special in our eyes. But our children with diverse abilities are extra special because our staff take extra special care to ensure that they are included and active to the best of their abilities. One of our sweet boys is Atticus — he has been a part of our program for over a year and has overcome many challenges during that time.  As he has grown and developed new skills, his peers and friends have grown and developed new skills too. And so have the staff. Last week the staff had a new invention for Atticus to try out.  They knew that Atticus loves balls and to roll things, but is not able to get enough strength and leverage to get things to move as far as he would like. So as a team, they figured out how to make a small ramp that Atticus can use to roll toys – and he was absolutely delighted! But even better, his friends all gathered around to help him and celebrate with him. It was a celebration of staff and children working and playing together, making sure that everyone gets to have fun and celebrate their successes. This is what inclusive looks like. We are so proud of our child care staff and the love and commitment they show to each of our children!

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Safe Home = A Precious Gift

“A safe home is a gift that should never be taken for granted”

This is a truth that so many of the tenants of The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing know from their own personal experience. Tenants of our housing at Hayward Heights and Mary Cridge Manor have all had experiences of leaving homes that are unsafe; either because a violent individual lives there, or because it is located in a war-torn country. For many of these families and individuals, The Cridge may be the only safe home they have ever known. It is a privilege for us to witness the joy and peace that can come from having a safe home.

Yet, the process of setting up their new homes is a huge task! We are blessed to have wonderful partnerships with Women In Need Society, Bungalow Gift Shop, and Bed, Bath & Beyond who donate household items and furniture for our tenants. The pride that these tenants show in their homes is truly special.

Recently, many of the tenants at Hayward Heights have had the desire to put the same care into the outside of their units as they do to the inside. Two of our staff members, Beata & Marilyn, have started a weekly gardening club where tenants can gather to get inspiration for how to transform their backyards into beautiful and functional spaces. We are fortunate to have many tenants with natural talents in this area, and the group is flourishing.

We know that there are many in this city who are struggling to find a safe home to call their own. We pray often for God to create new opportunities for housing in Victoria. Yet, we know that we have an amazing gift in the safe homes we can offer families at Hayward Heights and Mary Cridge Manor- and we don’t take that for granted!

 Candace Stretch

Spring Break and Butterflies!

by Mandy Wilson

What is Spring Break Camp at The Cridge? It’s two weeks of fun, faith and friendship. It’s going on adventures and trying new things. It’s playing games, making crafts, baking cookies and so much more. It’s waking up each morning filled with excitement as you anticipate the day ahead and going to bed exhausted with a brain full with new memories.

Each morning the children are greeted with a smile as they enter The Cridge child care facility. They are invited to find a favourite toy to play with or book to read. As friends arrive, the energy grows. Soon a leader invites some children to come outside to play on our playground. At 9:30 everyone gathers and the day truly begins. After a healthy snack from home, the children prepare to go on an out trip such as to Butterfly Gardens! Everyone enjoys learning about all of the beautiful butterflies and other creatures that live there. As the leaders supervise the group, the children are able to wander around the facility at their own pace. Some are mesmerized by the resident iguanas and flamingos while others are fascinated by the colours on the wings of the butterflies.

After awhile the children start to get hungry and it’s time to get back into the vehicles and head to a nearby park for lunch. The children are offered choices in their activities and on this afternoon they must choose between a hike in the forest, some structured games on the park’s field or free play on the playground. At 2:30, it’s time to head back to The Cridge as parents start to arrive shortly after 3. Once back at The Cridge, the children are offered a healthy snack – today it’s Ants on a Log (celery, cream cheese and raisins). They spend the rest of the afternoon either playing with the toys at the child care facility or enjoying our wonderful playground again until it’s time to go home. At The Cridge, we strive to be as inclusive as possible in all of our activities so that children of all abilities can participate and have fun.

Spring Break 2016 was filled with many highlights. This year we celebrated St Patrick’s Day by baking cookies and on our final day the Easter Bunny left us some treats. On other days we went hiking at Goldstream Park, saw a science show, played Bigger/Better (a trading game) at Mayfair Mall, enjoyed the playground at Gyro Beach and watched the Peanuts Movie at Cinecenta. One fun afternoon was spent styling each others’ hair at The Cridge using purple and blue (washable) hair gels and fancy elastics.

All of the fun activities during Spring Break 2016 have left everyone anticipating Sun Fun 2016.