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.

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.

The Gift of Home

by Candace Stretch

The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW) is a place for families to come and be safe, after the immediate crisis of leaving violence in their home. Yet, it can be difficult for the women and children who come through our doors to feel at home at CTHW. Walking out of your own home and into a strange place full of people you have never met before is challenging, and it can take time for women and children to feel comfortable.

At CTHW we are fortunate to have a welcoming team of staff, a friendly group of volunteers, and a lovely old house… all of these things help women and children to settle in and feel that they are home at least for a while. We often hear from women that there is warmth and a sense of safety that they experience at CTHW that is truly unique.

Feeling at home is especially important at Christmastime, and we work hard to make the House feel like a place where people can relax and enjoy some of the spirit of the season. Recently, I connected with a teenage girl who had spent a Christmas at CTHW when she was 9 years old. She shared: “that was one of my best Christmases ever. The Christmas tree, all the people, and the Christmas dinner… it was really special.”

The fact that CTHW could be such a special home for a child at Christmastime is evidence that God’s presence is there. He has gifted us with a special place, and special people, who together make up a very special home.

Our Jennie Butchart Garden

by Sarah Smith – Manager of Seniors Services

I wanted to share a story about how a donation intertwined with some other great community partners to impact our program this past year.

It all starts with Jennie Butchart. A brief history: Jennie and her husband bought the land at Tod Inlet for the limestone buried there to use for a cement plant. Once one quarry was emptied and abandoned, Jennie decided to create a garden. With the help of some of her husband’s quarrymen and several tonnes of local top soil brought in by horse and buggy, she began her project. It took from 1906 until 1921 until it was complete, but this adventurous and determined woman made it happen. (side note: Jennie Butchart was a certified Chemist who loved hot air ballooning and flying – quite a woman in the early 1900’s!) During that time, and later as she developed the Italian and Rose Gardens, she and her husband were known for their hospitality and had people – friends and strangers alike – travelling from all over to see their beautiful gardens. At first, they served every visitor (expected or otherwise) tea, and it is estimated that in 1915 alone over 18,000 guests were served! Among those fortunate, and frequent, guests were the past residents of the BC Protestant Orphan’s Home, or The Cridge Centre for the Family, as we are now known.

In 2006 both The Cridge and Butchart Gardens received Lifetime Achievement awards for our longevity and contribution to this community. In honour of the sharing of that award, Butchart Gardens donated all the revenue from their seasonal ice rink that year to our Seniors’ Centre. In honour of THEM, we put the money towards landscaping and named the lovely side garden the Jennie Butchart Garden as a token of our thanks, for the donation, and equally for Jennie’s compassionate support of the young children who lived here so many years ago.

Fast forward a few years and we realized that there was much more room for colourful flowers and plants than we had originally anticipated. After some research, the cost and time involved in filling out the garden was just too much. UNTIL two things wonderfully collided! Our department received a wonderful donation AND we had a call from a group of volunteers from Glad Tidings Church and Saanich Baptist Church who were participating in a Day of Service and wanted to do something for us.

Research was done, (many) plants were purchased, top soil was delivered, and the day arrived! For our garden project alone we had between 15 and 20 volunteers who distributed 5 yards of topsoil to the entire side garden and then planted over a hundred perennials in that space. And the day was magical. I was so inspired to see older generations of church volunteers teaching younger ones how to plant a plant, and everyone working so hard together for a big chunk of time to create something beautiful that we would never have been able to do on our own.

Please stop by next year in the early summer and walk by the Jennie Butchart Garden to see how a combined blessing made it into a space worthy of the name.

 

Transition House Thank You

It is not often that we can talk about the clients in the transition house — their precarious safety means that we work under the strictest confidentiality. Taking photos and telling stories has to be done so very carefully. But today we have a lovely letter to share from a woman who stayed with us. English is not her first language so the translation is a bit awkward — but the feelings certainly come through. Enjoy!

Dear all staffs and members of this house

On the first day when I moved from hospital to this house, I did not know anyone here. However, I was warmly welcomed by the staffs working in this house. I really appreciate your kindness. I know you are a government’s worker so I would like to send my sincere thanks and best wishes to you. I hope good-hearted people like you will receive the best of this life.

When my cancer is absolutely cured, I would like to return to this house once or twice a week to work as a volunteer (no salary or allowance), for example, cleaning or cooking, etc.. I would like to contribute something out of charity. I can cook quite well so I desire to serve the staffs and members here. My words are not able to transfer what I would like to say but l hope that you understand my feeling. 1 am not a rich woman in terms of money but I am a rich person in terms of love. From bottom of my heart, I really want to contribute my work for charity. I do not mind to do any kind of job in this house.

 

For more information about our transition house, click here.

The Why of Respitality

By Gyneth Turner

I got a thank you email this morning; always an awesome start to my Monday.  It was from parents to say thanks for their Respitality night.  Again, I was floored to hear just how much a night away meant to them.  I mean it’s only one night, right?

Here’s what they wrote:

“Dear Respitality,

I had the luxurious pleasure of staying at the Royal Scot Hotel & Suites Friday night with my husband through your Respitality program and I must say, I had the time of my life – it was up there in the top 5 fabulous nights of my life (including my wedding night).  What a great opportunity for parents to have that one night away – although I would re-name it from getting away from the stress of having a special needs child to “getting re-acquainted with your spouse night.”  My husband is a stay-at-home father during the day (so I can go to work full-time) and when I get home in the late afternoon, he goes to his part-time job.  So, my husband and I are either working or constantly worrying and/or caring for our son who has Angelman Syndrome and we forget to take time for his parents (us).  I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for the opportunity.  It was such a treat!

Kind regards,

S & T”

I sipped my tea and looked out my office window through the gold and green leaves of the Garry Oak outside.  It is October now and those leaves are falling; soon my view will include the little hilltops of Oak Bay and on a clear day, the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains.  My pleasure in the letter was dashed when I answered my phone and spoke to Beth, another one of our lovely Respitality mums.  Beth had some sad news to share with me.  Another family had lost their sweet girl.  She passed away very early that morning from complications of her disability.  The moment I hung up the phone with Beth, the phone rang again.  I answered on auto-pilot, it was Jane calling to say her husband had just gotten his deployment details; he would be leaving in two days, four days shy of their Respitality night.  I made a note to cancel the reservation and told Jane to call me and let me know when she wanted to re-book.  Jane was disappointed but stoic, as always.  They had planned to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

My thoughts drifted back to the heartbroken mum who held her daughter’s hand as she died this morning.  I reflected on how so much of my experience with our 500 families were like this;. A heart-warming note from a parent to tell me how much they had enjoyed their Respitality stay. A light-hearted chat with mum to give her the confirmation number for her hotel stay while her kids giggle and squeal “Muma Muma” in the background. And then the heartbreaking phone call from a parent about their marital separation, a reservation cancellation due to a child’s surgical date – the sixth that year, and the worst call, to share the news of a fragile child’s death.

Humans are born to ask WHY, in fact, it is practically the first thing little ones say when they have the language to do so…WHY WHY WHY?  Adult humans become reconciled to the fact that many of our WHY questions go unanswered.  I am lucky – I get my WHY answered all the time at work.  I never wonder why I do what I do or why it matters.  Every thank you note, every phone call, every email answers the question – Why Respitality?

You see, Respitality is more than a complimentary night in a hotel.  It is an uninterrupted dinner with the partner you love who finally has a moment to tell you they love you too.  It is a quiet space to grieve. It is an opportunity to celebrate significant milestones like wedding anniversaries.  It is an expression of caring from the PEOPLE behind the hotel donations, like June Dagnal at the Fairmont Empress and Joan Zimmer at Chateau Victoria.  It is a reminder that everyone should have some sweetness in their lives, and when life is so bitter, Cridge Respitality is a community that holds your hand and cries with you for your loss.

 

To learn more about the Cridge Respitality program or get involved click here.

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.

Sometimes It’s Just Knowing You Are Not Alone

— by Marlene Goley

There are no “typical” days in the life of Nicole, Cridge Young Parent Outreach Worker.  As she updates me about the young moms in her program, I hear about the support she gives one young mom to manage her own ADD and parent a baby; another mom trying to understand attachment; facilitating access visits for moms with children in the care of MCFD; countless trips to the Food Bank and every appointment imaginable (and some beyond imagining!).  The range of needs that Nicole responds to is staggering.  In the midst of all of this, she tells me about a young mom with a baby who really just needs Nicole to drop by her home and have a cup of coffee with her.  Mom needs some adult conversation, someone who appreciates her joys and understands the challenges of raising a baby in a tiny basement suite on her own.  She just needs to know that being on her own does not mean that she is all alone.

 

Check out Nicole’s facebook at www.facebook.com/cridgeyoungparent

 

mother and daughter

Young Parent Outreach Worker making a difference… one life at a time.

by Marlene Goley: Manager of Women’s and Family Services

Eileen found The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program 3 years ago.  She was 19, had one baby, was pregnant with a second, and knew she needed to leave her abusive partner.  She had not finished high school, had no job skills and was scared, depressed, and hopeless.  Her future looked very bleak.  Nicole, our Cridge Young Parent Outreach Worker has faithfully supported Eileen to get out and stay out of the relationship with her partner and to stabilize her health. With lots of encouragement and support, Eileen has completed an employment program, participated in the Cridge Asset Building Program for Youth, and is now taking one of the high school courses she needs to graduate.  She stays connected to Nicole as an “anchor” to help her stay focused on creating a safe, stable, happy future for herself and her children.  We are so proud of Eileen’s accomplishments and the work that Nicole does to help young moms and their children thrive.

 

 

No Wrong Door

by Candace Stretch: Assistant Manager of Women’s Services

I had a call from Sophie, a woman desperate for help as she supported a friend who is at high risk of violence at the hands of her partner. Sophie was so worried about her friend that she called police, victim services, and several women-serving agencies. Essentially she was told that there was nothing they could do for her friend unless the friend called them directly. By the time she got through to me, Sophie was feeling hopeless and exhausted.

Thank God for our website, because I was able to direct her to the safety planning documents that we have posted in the Cridge Transition House for Women Resources section. These documents serve as a guideline for anyone who wants to help a woman create a safety plan. I also told Sophie about our 24 crisis line and asked her to give her friend the number. I encouraged Sophie to find a time when her friend might agree to meet with our outreach worker.

Sophie told me at the end of that conversation that she got more help from The Cridge than from any other place she had called that day. Honestly, I did not do anything special- I simply gave her some tools to walk away with. I don’t think that these tools will 100% solve the problem, but at least it’s a start!

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