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.

The Kindness of Strangers

The Reality of Domestic Violence for Immigrant & Refugee Women in Victoria

Marlene Goley and Candace Stretch

             The Cridge Dovetail Program provides emotional support, life skill development, counselling, connections to community resources, financial literacy, and social opportunities to the women and children that live in our Supportive Transitional Housing. Over the past several years, we have had the opportunity to support several women who have come to Canada with the hope of becoming an immigrant or refugee, but who have been left in limbo because their abusive ex-partner is their sponsor. The reality of living life in immigration limbo is frightening- essentially these women find themselves cut off from any sort of financial support, and 100% dependant on the kindness of strangers.

            Take, for example, the story of Rachel. Rachel was brought to The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW) by police, who had been called to her home because her husband was assaulting her. After a few weeks at CTHW, Rachel was notified by Immigration Canada that her husband had pulled his sponsorship and that she was expected to leave the country immediately. Her only hope of staying in the country was to hire a lawyer and apply for refugee status. She had no money to pay this lawyer, or even to pay for rent or groceries, as she was not able to work and was ineligible to apply for Income Assistance, due to her lack of status in Canada.

            The next few months of Rachel’s journey were an exercise in faith. From the moment she walked through our doors, she was forced to rely on the kindness of strangers for her survival. Fortunately, the staff of The Dovetail Program were able to accept her as a tenant in our supportive transitional housing, and used funds from a donation account to pay her rent. She was entirely dependent on the staff of the Dovetail program, who organized furniture and clothing for her, ensured her rent and legal fees were paid each month, and gave her monthly grocery cards (also covered through donation accounts). Each day was a challenge, as Rachel dealt with the anxiety of living life in such a state of dependency, as well as her deeper fear that she would be deported and sent back to the country she had fled. By the grace of God, five months after Rachel first moved into Cridge housing, her refugee status was granted!

            The staff of The Cridge Dovetail program are privileged to be a part of the group of “kind strangers” who lead women like Rachel through the scary journey of escaping relationship violence and facing immigration limbo. For us, this is a journey that takes us from the role of stranger to the role of friend in these women’s lives. And while these women may never know the names and faces of the generous donors whose gifts feed and house them, they live with the knowledge that these “kind strangers” are their allies in the truest sense of the word!       


For more information about supports for women facing domestic violence click here

Volunteers: One of The Cridge’s Greatest Resources

Geoff Sing: Manager of Cridge Brain Injury Program


Volunteer Canada and Investors Group has designated April 12 – 18, 2015 as National Volunteer Week .The week is set aside to recognize the tremendous contribution of volunteers across the country. As we know, volunteers are a vital valuable source of support to all programs with The Cridge Centre for the Family.  It should be noted that The Cridge Board of Directors are faithful volunteers.  Through their dedication and commitment of providing hundreds of hours annually through various board duties and committees the governance of The Cridge is well maintained making The Cridge one of the best led Societies in Greater Victoria.

Within The Cridge Brain Injury Program, Macdonald House has been greatly enriched with volunteer support.  Over the past decade, over 200 volunteers have registered at Macdonald House.  These volunteers have contributed, over the past 10 years, 4000 plus hours support to our men and enhance their quality of life.

Some of the valuable lessons we have learned from our volunteer support:

  •  They come from all aspects of our community including, professionals, university and high school students; retirees. All volunteers have their own motivation for volunteering and with it they bring a committed energy to support the men of Macdonald House.
  •  There is no limit to the support that volunteers provide to our tenants. The complexity and breadth of support provided to the men of Macdonald House is endless and includes:  attending special events in Greater Victoria, assisting with community based cooking, swimming or weight training programs, a myriad of opportunities – walks, playing cards, Wii or computer games, companion pets – at Macdonald House.
  •  Our volunteers are valued allies who have the potential to offer more than individual support to our tenants. Often volunteers have tapped into their personal networks to assist our tenants to access a service they needed or could not access. Here is another example of the potential to receive more from a volunteer:  a volunteer from several years past, volunteered because it was a requirement for a course she was taking.  However, her volunteer experience was so enjoyable that she maintained email and written contact with a tenant when she left BC to pursue a degree in nursing.  When she returned to Victoria, she and her husband continued to visit this tenant on a social basis.  This example is so valuable and heartening because this relationship is based on true friendship.  Our tenants are developing social relationships not because the other party has to but wants to.
  •  There is the opportunity for lasting mutually valued relationships. For the past 12 years, the University of Victoria Men’s Rowing team has provided a one day garden clean-up at Macdonald House.  As many as 20 rowers have come out on a Sunday in March to do various garden projects. This is a great benefit to Macdonald House as we are able to ready our garden for the upcoming growing season.  For the rowers – many of them who are of the age of the stereotypical survivor of a brain injury- who have told us this is one of their highlight days of the year, we get the opportunity to educate them about brain and just as importantly, for them, brain injury prevention.
  • It is our duty to provide both a volunteer opportunity as well as educating volunteers about brain injury. By teaching and training about brain injury volunteers are our future advocates for the brain injury community. We have had several volunteers pursue careers in the medical and social service field.  Many have told us their positive experience here led them to work in their field specializing in brain injury.

We believe we offer volunteers a good experience to support survivors of a brain injury and a good opportunity to learn about brain injury.  But as it has been listed above, it is quite apparent that we at Macdonald House are the ones who have benefited the most. Volunteers give of their time and skills so they may contribute to their community. They expect little else than a thank you, so to the many volunteers of past and present, THANK YOU for all you do.






Testimonial from a Young Parent

Here are the words of one young parent who was supported by our amazing Young Parent Outreach Program.

The Cridge YPOP has made a world of difference to my little family. I wasn’t driving and I was on income assistance with my daughter who was an infant. The Cridge YPOP  helped me get to the food bank food because income assistance doesn’t give much and I was breast feeding and hungry! The program gave me donations of blankets and food for my baby girl and I got direction on where to find legal advice to handle the situation with my daughter’s father. The Outreach Worker was there to talk and help me with whatever stresses and difficulties I was having. She told me where various free rooms were to cloth my baby and my quickly changing bodies (one getting smaller again and the other growing!). I was lost with no direction. I don’t really have much in the way of family as I grew up going through foster homes and since my pregnancy was unexpected and I was in the partying stage of my life when I found out i was pregnant, I lost the majority of my friends who were my party mates. I wanted to do my best for my daughter and Cridge YPOP showed me my options. My Outreach Worker was wonderful, positive and funny. It was really great to have support and encouragement from her. She was a great example and a great resource.


For more information about our Young Parent Outreach Program click here.

No Wrong Door

Here at The Cridge we have a “No Wrong Door” approach to services:  if we cannot help, we will support the client to find someone who can. This means having staff who are willing to go the extra mile and make sure that no one who asks for help leaves without some sort of assitance.  Here is a story about that from our Transition House for Women.

We  saw more women experience immigration challenges and threats of deportation in 2014 than ever before in one year.  It seems that the more “reforms” made to the Canadian immigration laws and processes, the more difficult it becomes for immigrant women to leave violent partners.  The public assurances that special allowances will be made for immigrant women fleeing domestic violence just don’t seem to materialize.  These women face having to   stay with their abusive husbands or face deportation because leaving the abuse means having no status.  No status means no eligibility to work legally, receive income assistance, medical benefits, or public education. 

We helped 7 women in 2014 get safe and survive this “no status” limbo.  When we have shared some of these stories of courage and survival with colleagues in the community, the response is always, “It’s a good job they found The Cridge!”  We have been working so hard to help these women survive and stay safe, we forgot that we really have been the “no wrong door” for them.  We are so grateful to be part of an organization that enables us to be on “no wrong door” auto-pilot!


Sharing Christmas Joy through the Generations

 christmas village 2014

Christmas is time of joy and wonder for children and adults alike.  The lights, the colours and the happy celebration of the birth of a special child fill our hearts with warmth and compassion. 

This year as we prepared to welcome the season and decorate the Child Care Centre we were approached by the grandparent of one of our children.  She wondered if she could share a special gift for the children this year.  For many years her mother in-law had collected and lovingly displayed a tiny Christmas village in her very tiny living room.  Since her passing the village had been kept packed and stored and this year her daughter-in-law lovingly set-it up for our families to enjoy.

The village was set up at the children’s level with the intent that it could be an interactive display.  The children were trusted to move the tiny porcelain pieces around the display.  We would often find Santa on the roof top of a tiny house, the picket fences moved from home to home or a tiny sled in a tree.  The children were trusted with something delicate and in turn treated it with great respect without having to be reminded to “be careful”.

When Grandma returned to pack the village up again all the pieces were there and intact.  The family had been able have the gift of knowing their loved one’s passion had been shared with others.   All the children, including the great grandson of the lady who had so lovingly set up the display in her home year after year for her family, had been able to experience the opportunity to be trusted to interact successfully with something beautiful and delicate.  Grandma shared with us that her mother-in-law would be smiling down on this.   This was a special gift of joy which really celebrated the warmth of the Christmas season and the sharing of love through the generations.                


A Christmas blessing from a former client

One of our former Cridge Transition House for Women clients attended the Healthy Relationships luncheon last week, and shared a bit of prose that she wrote in gratitude. I took a few stanzas out to share with you.  A lovely Christmas blessing to us!

“The real miracle of Christmas visited me during my adjusting year 2012!
Lessons taught to me; instilled by strangers, volunteers, and especially workers of The Cridge Centre.
It was MY Christmas, after all the tribulations of many years of silent abuse.
The burdened heart found freedom, the soul replenished so that today Christmas is cherished with continuing hope!
Asking for help is the most precious gift given to me!
Thanks to the management, staff, volunteers, and unknown patrons. Through your dedication and tireless support, we are happy! Merry Christmas”

What is Respitality?

Respitality volunteer preparing baskets for our families

Respitality is one of those wonderful ideas that grew into a vibrant program based on a need that was evident in our community. It is a combination of respite care and hospitality, wrapped up with love, and provided to the families of children with special needs. We have over 450 families registered through the program — they each get 1 night a year to stay in a local hotel and receive a basket full of treats.  For many of our families, this is the only chance they will get all year to get away and have their batteries recharged. We hear over and over again, how grateful the families are — how much they needed and appreciate the break. Parents everywhere can identify with that crazy need sometimes to escape the kids — imagine how hard that would be if your child has special needs that make a regular babysitter impossible. Our families often face exhaustion and isolation — they just need a break. And so, here at The Cridge, we are so thrilled to be able to give them that much deserved break — to bless them with that opportunity to take a breath, relax and know that their child is well cared for. We are also so grateful for the hotels who provide their rooms free of charge, and the local businesses who provide us with gifts and other products with which to pamper our families.

Come and support this amazing program this Wednesday (Dec 3) at our Stuff the Stocking Fundraiser — and give a family a much needed rest. We are stuffing the stocking with checks and cash donations to keep this vital program running for the coming year.

Stuff the Stocking — Grande Lounge at The Cridge Senior’s Centre
8 AM – 11 AM for Refreshments and some holiday cheer!
1307 Hillside Ave.

Our Vital Volunteers

For the past 20 years, The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW) has benefited from the wonderful work of volunteers. Over the years, dozens of talented women have volunteered their time at CTHW to offer a listening ear to a woman or child, help with cooking meals and keeping the House tidy, provide transportation to  important appointments, pick up and sort through donations, and countless more tasks!

Our volunteers come with a wide-range of skills, personal experiences and talents to share. The staff team at CTHW includes a volunteer coordinator who recruits, trains and coordinates these volunteers so that they can make use of their unique set of gifts in the work they do with our women and children. Here are just a few snapshots of the vital work that volunteers do at CTHW:

  • Marj has such an encouraging heart. Her favourite thing to do is just sit and chat with the women and children at CTHW, and she can often be found sharing a cup of tea with a resident in the eating area. She is also always willing to offer practical help, and is the first to offer to help a resident cook dinner or do the laundry. A favourite memory of Marj was the time she put on the Raffi Christmas CD and danced around the Christmas tree with all of the children!
  • Our faithful volunteer Evie comes each week on the night before our groceries are delivered. She dutifully goes through our fridges, tosses old leftovers, and creates AMAZING meals out of whatever ingredients remain. Her ability to create something delicious from nothing is such a valuable gift to us. Evie also has a green thumb and can often be found in the backyard, helping to keep the garden alive and the weeds at bay!
  • Melody has been our Wednesday evening volunteer for many years now. As such, she has an essential role in getting our weekly Cobs Bread donation from the storefront to the House. It is a huge job, as there are many many bins full of bread each week that must be picked up, packaged and brought back to CTHW. Because of Melody’s commitment to volunteer, women at CTHW as well as families in our Supportive Transitional Housing are able to access free bread each week.

These are just a few examples of the vital volunteers that give of their time and talents to enhance the lives of women at CTHW. We are so thankful!


DF’s Story: Celebrating Success

brainInury IconDF came to live at Mary Cridge Manor (MCM) just over three years ago. He was homeless, living in a shelter, and had spent the majority of his adult life in and out of prison. He is a recovering alcoholic and addict. When he arrived at MCM, DF took methadone daily under the care of a doctor.

DF settled into the routine of MCM quite quickly; however, initially he seemed reserved and shy and rarely came to the office or attended functions. Although it was somewhat concerning to the team, the protocol was to keep building the trust and relationships in hopes of getting him to engage. What soon became apparent to the team was that DF was not “avoiding doing the work of rehab” but rather he was “celebrating” that he had a home. DF was thrilled beyond belief that he was no longer on the street and declared, “I haven’t had a home in five years.” He was extremely proud of his apartment, the furniture and belongings he had gathered, and simply wanted to enjoy the surroundings he had always longed for, but never had.

In following the “whatever it takes” (WIT) model, the team worked with DF to flesh out his three-year goals and to develop a plan to achieve them. DF’s goals were similar to other client’s (e.g. return to work), but he had one we had yet to encounter: DF wanted to come off methadone. He knew this would be challenging, but he also knew and believed whole-heartedly that it was something he had to do in order to move forward with his life so he could live the way he wanted.

With the dedication of skilled team members, and in consultation with DF’s physician, medical and support agencies, a one-year plan was devised to continually and slowly reduce DF’s methadone until he was no longer taking it. DF worked hard with his physician and team members to complete the process and to find other meaningful ways (e.g. mindfulness) to help him cope day-to-day.

DF works several days a week in the MCM employment project, which consists of building and shipping greeting cards. He is always ready to lend a hand in the card project and with other events happening at MCM. His care and concern for others is second-to-none and he demonstrates every day that anyone can turn their life around when given the supports and services to do so. 

DF is looking forward to the next chapter of his life. He is exploring options to return to school for training as a Community Support Worker. His future goal includes opening a recovery house for addicts. DF has the drive and heart to help others and we have no doubt in his ability to work hard and achieve this goal. 

Cridge Respite Connect- A Wonderful Tool for Helping Familes!

Imagine being the parent of a child with Asperger’s syndrome: supporting your child through the daily routine of life leaves no time for self-care. Because of your child’s complex needs you have no one in your circle of friends and family who is willing to provide childcare, yet taking a break is crucial for you to have the energy to be an effective parent.

The Cridge Respite Program seeks to connect families to qualified respite care providers (RCP’s), so that parents can take a much-needed break knowing that her child is well cared for.

Over the course of the past year, the staff of The Cridge Respite Resource Service have developed a dynamic tool for helping families and RCP’s to connect. The tool is called “Cridge Respite Connect” and is an online platform that allows families to post detailed profiles of about their child and their childcare needs are. It also allows RCP’s to post their specific qualifications, interests, and availability.

Families can then look through the profiles of RCP’s and contact those that will meet their specific needs. The Cridge Respite Program coordinator manages and monitors Cridge Respite Connect and helps both families and RCP’s to create profiles that will be effective in creating a great connection.

Since the launch of Cridge Respite Connect, many success stories have emerged of families who have found just the right person to care for their child:

  • One mother emailed: “Just to let you know that a very wonderful person called me up who had seen my profile online. He started working today! I am very excited to have him, I think he will be great!”
  • Parents of another child wrote: “Thanks to you, we have found great care providers. You can remove our profile and we will contact you in the future when the need arises.”
  • A grandparent caring for a child with special needs shared: “I would like to thank you for submitting my profile to your respite care website. I have received three interested people and would like at this point to have my ad taken down as I do not want to be overwhelmed by talented respite caregivers (so hard to choose!)”

We are so proud of the impact that Cridge Respite Connect is having in the lives of families with children with special needs!