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.

Ride for Refuge

RIDE Logo - Primary (Small PNG)

The Ride for Refuge happens each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving across Canada. It is one of those events that gathers people from all parts of the community together — to walk or ride their bikes in support of a charity they love. It sounds so simple and yet it is an event that has incredible impact. Here in Victoria, over $100,000 was raised for 16 local charities — charities that are working with the displaced, exploited and vulnerable here in Victoria and abroad. The impact is tremendous — lives are being touched, people are being cared for and hope is being given.

 

Here at The Cridge Centre, we are super proud to be the host of the Ride for Refuge. It is an amazing opportunity to partner with other charities, businesses and community groups. We just LOVE working in partnership with other passionate people to make an impact on lives. We are so thrilled when people from the community join us in this passion.  Check out the link to see what MLA Rob Fleming had to say in the legislature. And have a look at just some of the photos of that fabulous day on facebook.

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!

donate now 1

 

A Senior Faces Change

by Sarah Smith: Manager of Seniors’ Services

Mr Smith arrived here at the Seniors’ Assisted Living Centre after his Parkinson’s worsened and it was no longer safe for him to be on his own at home. He had had a few falls while trying to do some things for himself (showering, dressing, standing to cook his meals) and that was a huge concern for his family.

Mr Smith was and is a very independent man. He doesn’t like to ask for help and, honestly, often doesn’t believe that he needs it. He finally conceded to come to The Cridge under much pressure from his family and was clearly and vocally unhappy about it. He told me within a week of moving in that he was miserable about having to be here, but that if he has to be anywhere other than home, this was the best around.

He has now lived here for 2 months and the change is astounding. He has Beacon Services helping him with his showers and dressing, and is enjoying our fantastic meals and having his suite cleaned every week. His family is relieved and the visible tension in him is now gone.  In his own home, when he wanted to see his friends, or be social, it involved arranging transportation with others and often seemed more trouble than it was worth. Now he is able to come downstairs from his suite and find someone to play Cribbage with, enjoy a meal with, watch a movie or listen to an entertainer – do all of the things that seemed impossible before.

He has purposely come to me to tell me how glad he is now that his family “encouraged” him to make the move, and that he had no idea what it would be like to be relieved of so many of the daily tasks that were causing him stress.

The Cridge Respite Service: Highlighting the Difficult Realities for Parents of Children with Special Needs

 

The Cridge Respite Service is committed to helping families who have children with special needs and mental health challenges find a qualified respite care worker. The parents of these children are truly an inspiration- the daily routine of caring for their kids is one that requires patience, energy, compassion and determination.

Having a caregiver with the training and skills to work with these precious children is a fundamental need for parents. Yet, so often, they are unable to get the support they need as they slip through the cracks of a system that is over-burdened. Here are some examples of the struggles parents face:

  • Rachel is a single mom of 4 young children, 2 of whom have complex medical needs. Recently, she has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and will require intense treatment. Rachel is desperate to go away for a few days with her husband before treatment starts. Even though she has secured a qualified respite care provider through The Cridge Respite Service, she has not been able to secure enough respite funding to pay for this care
  • Lamar is a happy, energetic boy with ADHD. Recently, Lamar’s mother got word from the week-long summer camp he will be attending that his needs exceed the capabilities of just one staff member. In order to attend the camp, he will require an additional support worker.  Neither the camp or Lamar’s mother have the funding to pay an additional worker, and thus his ability to go to camp is dependent on finding someone who can volunteer their time to support him
  • Susan is a single mom who of a daughter with a learning disability and nerve paralysis. Time and time again, Susan’s daughter seems to slip through the cracks of any funding opportunities. The frustration and fatigue that Susan is experiencing is palpable. She recently shared with a staff member: “I think someone needs to point me in the way of advocacy… I’m tired of sitting silently waiting for something to happen!!”  

The difficult reality for these parents is that the systems that are set up to support their children are over-burdened. The pain, frustration and exhaustion that we see in these parents’ experiences is heartbreaking. Yet the tremendous love that they have for their children, and their steadfast dedication to them, is the most powerful and inspiring part of the work we do!

For more information Respite and Respitality Services or Donate Now.