Who Do We Serve?

Do you ever wonder who it is that benefits from The Cridge Centre for the Family?  Who is served and where they receive these services?  And exactly how many are served in a year?  Wonder no more — check out our handy dandy infographic below to answer all your questions….

 

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A Sharing Economy

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Let me start by saying that I moved away from Victoria in 1997 and that for the intervening time, I have mostly lived in the developing world.  So my perspective on Victoria and Canadian culture is not the same as someone who has lived here all their life. I have lived in places of great poverty — both physical and emotional — and I have returned to Victoria with a great deal of gratitude and appreciation for all that life as a Canadian has to offer. And so, when I hear the ambulance sirens passing by my door, I breathe up a prayer of thanksgiving that there are hospitals and ambulances and first responders to care for those in emergencies.  When I go to the library with my kids, we still leave with armloads of books, amazed that they are free to borrow. When I walk down the street, I am grateful for the safety of my  neighbourhood. I enjoy taking the bus because it is clean, safe and reliable. I constantly marvel at the services available to me and my family — and I am so thankful for them.

It’s been a year and a half since we returned to Victoria, and a year and a half of gratitude. I’m sure that eventually this feeling will fade as it all becomes normal again — although I hope that I will never take it all for granted… however it is quite likely that I will. But today I wanted to write about the “sharing economy” I see in Victoria.  The phrase “sharing economy” was one that I came across recently — and I wrote it down to remind myself that this is a topic worthy of a blog post. I see this idea, of sharing and participating in our local community, as one that really typifies Victoria.  Every day when I read the paper, I see examples of people and businesses reaching out to help — whether it is a local business serving breakfast at Our Place, or someone making a donation to The Cridge, or the Lieutenant Governor and her staff wearing purple to raise awareness about epilepsy. We are a city that cares and isn’t afraid to let the world know about it. And how amazing is that?  I LOVE it!

But I also see a lot of hurt and need in our city — the young man who begs at the stop light, the women who access our transition house after leaving a violent relationship, the refugee families who are so grateful to be in a safe place but so bewildered about how to make a life here. The fact that there are so many homeless people in our city is an absolute tragedy — in the midst of so much wealth, it astounds me that so many people don’t even have a place to live. And I often wonder what it would take to change this — what would it take for all of us to share and give enough that there wouldn’t be homelessness anymore. What would it take for our food banks to close for lack of need? What would it take for our children to go to school with full bellies and the physical ability to learn? What would it take, Victoria?

Joy of Learning – Spring Break

Do you remember the excitement and wonder of learning new things? As we get older, we sometimes forget what an amazing thing it is to discover something new that surprises and amazes us. It is truly one of the great parts of spending time with kids — especially in an educational setting — to have the opportunity to experience that wonder through the eyes of the young.

Over Spring Break, our child care programs have been busy with the kids — having  a lot of fun, but also learning some new exciting stuff.  Check out this video of a science experiment  — I just love hearing the excitement of the kids as they learn.

Science video

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!       

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

Ride for Refuge is coming!!!

On a cool October day last Fall, over 300 cyclists set out on the Ride for Refuge. It was cloudy and threatened rain, but the cyclists — some in full cycling gear, others with bikes that looked like they hadn’t been ridden in a decade — were not put off. They were riding for the greater good. Each of them came with a purpose and a charity they were passionate about supporting. Seventeen local charities who work with the displaced, the vulnerable and the exploited benefited that day — over $100,000 was raised and an excellent new event for Victoria was started.

Not only was that an exciting day for the community, but it was also a rewarding day for the organizers who had laboured to plan the event and make it happen. And this year will be no different — already  we are making lists (and checking them twice), mapping out routes (and cycling them) and looking for volunteers to help us make this year’s ride another fabulous event. We are currently seeking people to take on leadership roles, to lead teams and to get involved with the grass roots planning of the event.  If you have a couple hours a week to give, and a heart for making this a fabulous event, please contact Joanne (250 995 6419) or jspecht@cridge.org to discuss how to get involved. We are so excited about this event — and we need your help to make it happen!

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To see photos of last years ride and get more info about how it all works, check out this link

2015 Ride for Refuge on Saturday, October 3 — Mark your calendar!

 

Volunteers: One of The Cridge’s Greatest Resources

Geoff Sing: Manager of Cridge Brain Injury Program

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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.

Pink Day — Bullying Can Have Life-long Effects

This week we are seeing all kinds of activities and events running on the theme of anti-bullying.  The country is in pink (those of us enjoying the cherry blossoms in Victoria more so than the others) and we are thinking about what it means to be bullied and how to stop it.  I was really impressed to see how one class in Langley approached the topic and how the students expressed themselves in a video. H.D. Stafford Middle School Grade 8 students in the leadership program have provided us with a strong image of what bullying looks like in a school — and its impacts (click here to access the link). We don’t need to go far to see the impacts but what we may not realize is that bullying is traumatic to kids and that trauma can have a lasting effect on their health and future. Watch the video by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris to catch a glimpse of her thoughts on childhood trauma.

 

 

 

New Website for Women in Abusive Relationships

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More and more, it is becoming clear that women who are in abusive relationships are often too frightened to get the help they need — and sometimes the “help” causes more harm than good. They are afraid to leave, afraid to talk to someone, afraid to report to the police. It is no surprise that these women feel hopeless and helpless.  What seems to be a hopeless situation has had some hope thrown into it — in the form of a website that can help those same women access the services they need without putting themselves in further danger. One of the first things they learn is how to clean their browser history so that their abuser cannot see which websites they have been looking at… thereby protecting them in their search for help.

“It’s just a small percentage of the population that experience violence that use services,” said Varcoe, from UBC’s School of Nursing. “There is a vast range of reasons women are afraid to get help. This is a safe, anonymous way to find out what your situation is, make priorities, make a plan and get resources and support.”

For more information: Website for Women in Abusive Relationships

Speaking Out on CBC On the Island

This morning our dynamic duo from our Women’s Services department, Marlene Goley and Candace Stretch, were interviewed by Gregor Craigie (CBC ) about the services provided by The Cridge for women in abusive relationships.  They did an excellent job of identifying the issues and sharing about the variety of options available to women and their children.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here