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.

Fort Victoria

Fort Victoria Welcomes the Cridges

by Monica Hammond

There were about 200 settlers living in Victoria when Edward and Mary Cridge arrived in 1855, and about 600 settlers on Vancouver Island. The Cridges lived in Fort Victoria for their first year, while their parsonage was being built.

Very early in their lives in this new community, they became aware of the needs of their fellow Victorians. A seriously ill man was found on a mattress in their garden; someone had brought him there knowing that he would receive the care he needed because of the generous nature of the Cridges. Another time, a naval officer in ill health stayed with them while he grieved for his father. Yet another time, Edward Cridge visited a shooting victim who had been brought to the Fort. It did not take long for the community to appreciate the impact of Mary and Edward Cridge on the lives of the disadvantaged.

The gold rush of 1858 brought a rush of people to Victoria. 20,000 people came through, and Victoria’s population grew from a few hundred to between 3,000 and 6,000 over a period of five years. Reverend Cridge immediately began to address the needs of these new Victorians, many of whom would become his parishioners. His ministerial work extended beyond Victoria to Colwood, Esquimalt, and other areas. The impact of his and Mary’s social work was felt by people near and far.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.

Edward and Mary Cridge

Who were Edward and Mary Cridge?

by Monica Hammond

Edward Cridge was born in England in 1817. His mother died when he was quite young, so he was raised in a single-parent family. After grammar school, Edward went on to get a degree in mathematics. In the same year that he got his degree, he passed a theological exam and was ordained into the Church of England. After three years as a minister at Christ Church in Essex, he heard about the chance to minister at a new parish – the “Chaplaincy of Vancouvers Island” (The Home: p. 20). He would have to leave England in less than one month.

He had been working with Mary Winmill in Essex for some time and had grown to love her. He asked her to marry him and go with him to Vancouver Island. She said yes. Three weeks later, in September 1854, Edward and Mary Cridge embarked on their voyage to the other side of the world.

Even as a young man, Edward had an interest in helping people and building communities. He raised support for victims of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, and organized a musical society while at college. Mary had also been active in community-minded work. This social awareness on the part of both Edward and Mary Cridge would have a great impact on the fledgling community they were about to join: Victoria.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.


Travel Back in Time with us!

Have you ever wondered why we are called The CRIDGE Centre for the Family? Or wondered how this organization was started? Maybe you want to know about the history of our gorgeous building and property? Over the next several months, we will be posting short excerpts from the book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 – 1998. These stories will give you answers to your questions and whet your appetite for the rich history that surrounds this incredible organization that has been serving the people of Victoria for over 143 years. So join us as we travel back in time to Fort Victoria and the small community that became a staging ground for the gold rush. There are many characters who you will meet with names that you will recognize from streets and buildings in Victoria. The Cridge Centre for the Family and the characters that surround it are an integral part of the history of Victoria — and this will be a journey into the past that you will not want to miss! Watch for the first installment later this week!

With special thanks to Monica Hammond for compiling these stories.

What is Cridge Respite Connect?

by Gyneth Turner


Connecting families of children with special needs to qualified respite care providers.

The knock on the door came promptly at the appointed time, and the office door opened to reveal the eager face of the young woman who had submitted an impressive resume.  Jenna was hoping to find work providing respite care for children and youth with special needs.

Lucky Us!

Jenna found Cridge Respite Connect when she came across the job ad we have posted on – a job search website that connects employers with potential hires.  Indeed is one of the many tools that Cridge Respite Connect uses to search out qualified respite care providers.

Who is Jenna?

Jenna fell in love with supporting children and youth with special needs as a young teen.  She credits the amazing relationships she formed with kids while volunteering for events such as Operation Track Shoes as the impetus to pursuing work in respite care.  Meanwhile, Jenna is a third year UVic student majoring in biology and psychology.  She plans to do a master’s degree in neurobiology and ultimately, a PhD in neuropsychology.  She hopes that the work she does will directly lead to better supports for the challenges that people with disabilities face.

For Families

Jenna was hired by a family who have a young son who has Autism.  Jenna and Hugo have formed a great relationship that has opened so many doors for both Hugo and his parents.  While Jenna and Hugo enjoy an afternoon at the beach, Hugo’s mum, Karen, spends a day at the mall doing some back-to-school shopping with her daughter Emily.  Hugo’s dad, Ryan, has a few hours to enjoy a 50 km bike ride with some buddies that he otherwise would not get to see very much of.  Once a month Jenna spends Friday night with Hugo and Emily pigging out on popcorn and watching the latest Netflix offering.  Ryan and Karen have dinner out together or with friends.  Before Jenna, none of this was possible.

If you know a Jenna….

Please send him/her our way!  You can hardly imagine the blessing they will be to a terrific family, and according to our “Jenna’s”, you can hardly imagine the blessing our Cridge Respite Connect families will be to them.

For more information about Cridge Respite Connect, click here

More Than Making a Budget

— Marlene Goley

The reality for many women escaping abuse is poverty.  They have been isolated, forbidden to work outside of their homes or develop marketable skills, often are left with big debts, and are trying live on income which is below the subsistence levels of government Income Assistance. There is little hope of seeing any child or spousal support from their abusive ex-partners.  Living in poverty means cycling through financial crises, housing instability, insufficient money for food and such basic necessities such as bus fare or laundry.  Returning to their abusive partners often seems like the only way for them and their children to survive. This is the reality for the women who move into The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing.

Our program supports have always focused on the safety planning and healing that are crucial for women leaving abusive relationships.  Because we realized that we also must support women to become financially stable in order for them to create and maintain their own safety and security and that of their children we tried to incorporate some budgeting and money management. But it seemed that that was just too huge a place for women to go with us, with themselves, or with anyone.  Women needed more than making a budget.

In 2010, we secured funding to launch The Cridge Asset Building Program.  Asset building programs are much more than making a budget. Participants are supported to actually implement the “financial literacy” that they have learned. They are individually coached to set some realistic financial goals for the future, to make a plan to get control over their money (even with little income), and to start saving  modestly for their future plans.  The key to making this work? The matched savings component of the program.  Each participant’s monthly savings is matched 3:1 for 18 months.

Here is how it worked for Joanna:

She left her abusive husband and was trying to support herself and her daughter on less than $900 a month.  She was in a terrible financial bind and terrified to open her threatening overdue bills.   But the promise of the 3:1 match was the powerful incentive. She said it was the only thing that gave her hope and the courage to try.  She made a spending plan that included a monthly payment on the credit card debt and put $10 a month into her savings account.  Over 18 months she paid down her debt, saved $180 and with the $540 match she had $720. That, plus a moderate student loan, would get her through the 10-month Registered Care Aid course.  What she could hardly dare dream about 18 months previously, had become a reality.
The matched savings component is the important difference between teaching budgeting or financial literacy and providing a real incentive to change behaviour – to engage with the learning. It is also the most challenging to fund. Since 2010, 43 women have been able to complete The Cridge Asset Building Program.  We are hopeful to start another 10 women.  Women can save up to a maximum of $50 per month, so for a 3:1 match for 18 months we need about $2700 for each match.  We have received a grant from The Lobstick Foundation that will cover two women.  But we are still searching for the funding for the other 8 women to give them all the opportunity to build their confidence, reduce their vulnerability, give them hope, and to be amazing role-models for their children. With your help, we can continue to give women the skills and hope to manage their finances well. Please consider making a donation and designating it to “Asset Building Program”.

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.