Youth Connection

by Candace Stretch

The Cridge Dovetail Program provides support to the women and children living in our Supportive Transitional Housing. All of these families have recently experienced violence, either at the hands of an abusive person living in their home or through political violence in their home country.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful team of skilled support workers who connect weekly with our tenants. Among the many individual and group activities that we offer our tenants, are programs for the children and youth living in Cridge housing. Susie, our Child and Youth Worker, has a special talent for bringing just the right combination of fun, compassion, and insight to her interactions with our kids.

Recently Susie established a youth group which meets every Thursday evening. She enlisted the help of Isha, another support worker in the Dovetail Program, to co-facilitate. The group is focused on helping these kids to find confidence, friendship, and a sense of belonging in our Cridge community. The group often hang out together here at The Cridge doing activities such as baking, art and video games. But they also love to get out and explore our city together.

Over the years, there have been many successful youth groups established in our Dovetail Program- but this group has been truly remarkable. From the minute they came together, this group of kids seemed to genuinely click. They couldn’t be a more diverse group of individuals- they represent many differences in personality, gender, skills and abilities, cultural background, language of origin, and life experience. But each has had the common experience of leaving violence and coming to The Cridge to seek safety. The group has become a close-knit circle of friends. Susie and Isha have witnessed each member contributing to the group, and taking steps to share their genuine self with each other.

It is a joy to witness the young people in our Cridge Dovetail community coming together in this special way. We are thankful to God!

CHEK News: Vital People

Last week we had the privilege of having Veronica Cooper from CHEK News visit us to film a piece for Vital People about Michael Cridge. Here is the link to view that clip:

Vital People: Michael Cridge

A story of plants, gratitude and being blessed.

Every now and then one of our supporters contacts us with a story of how their lives intersect with The Cridge Centre. We love hearing about how our family members are active in their communities and are also advocating for us and our programs.  Here is a story from Diane, a long term supporter and champion of The Cridge Centre and how she turned irritation into gratitude and a gift.

For years I have been putting my plants on the driveway for people to take away. Over the last years I have noticed that friends and neighbors are taking the plants when I am not around but they never say they have the plant, and they never express any appreciation. That disappoints me. About two weeks ago, a couple who I don’t know who live a block away, walked by when I was in the garden and the man commented that they have taken many “good” plants from me over the years. Then he said ”So when are you going to put out more for me”? He was not joking. Normally I would have said “I will dig up some plants for your right now” but something stopped me. On reflection, I realized I was angry at how people are taking the plants but not bothering to say thank you. Then I realized how much the Lord gives us — and how often do I forget to express my gratitude for his gifts? And how does the Lord feel when I just keep saying I want more. I knew I needed to change but didn’t know what to do next.

After a few days of reflection, I decided I would put my one chrysanthemum plant on Used Victoria…selling it for $5. I advertised that the funds would be donated to the Respite Care at The Cridge Centre. Within two hours a lady responded that she wanted it and could she come and get it right away. Of course I was motivated to dig up more. So every day or so someone comes by with their $5.00 and walks away delighted with their bargain plants. This has been going on for a week or more. A lady with a wholesale nursery took away a lot of my nerine bulbs. A young lady just left moments ago — she picked up some plants for her mum (they have both moved here from Manitoba). When I explained what The Cridge does, she pushed the change I had for her back into my hand and said  ”We like organizations like this – keep the money”. And she gave me a dahlia bulb as well! Tomorrow someone who lives in Vancouver is coming to get a plant. I am meeting many interesting people, sharing a love of gardening and raising money for a worthy cause… and being blessed at the same time. What a wonderful gift!

Thanks, Diane, for sharing your story! And thanks to so many of you who look for generous and creative ways to support The Cridge Centre — we are so grateful for you!

If you want to  support The Cridge Centre by selling things on Used Victoria, click here to get more information.



Michael Cridge

Michael Cridge — Caring Canadian and Cridge Champion

Can we be any prouder? If Bishop Cridge and his wife Mary were around, they would undoubtedly be busting their buttons with pride over their great great grandson who will be awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Michael has been a faithful supporter of The Cridge Centre for over 18 years, serving in a variety of capacities, including board member, president and treasurer. His passion and commitment have impacted lives and have continued to push The Cridge Centre forward as an organization striving for excellence in serving the Greater Victoria community. The Cridge legacy of faithful generosity and dedicated service to our community continues to live on in Michael and his family. We are so honoured and proud to have Michael as part of The Cridge Centre’s family.

The award ceremony will be at 2:30 on Friday March 4, 2016 in Vancouver and can be streamed live on



Diabetes and Brain Injury

Diabetes is a challenging disease and not one that is commonly associated with brain injury. Brian Loof, previous resident of Macdonald House, lives with the daily impact of both diabetes and a brain injury.
Brian slipped into a diabetic coma and when he awoke from the coma, he was missing approximately 7 years of his memory. There were many challenges ahead of Brian so he came to Macdonald House to begin rebuilding his life.
Initially, the goal was to create a medically stable life for Brian and to provide him with a safe, nurturing home with 24-hour support. Brian also needed to establish healthy routines and work towards making positive changes in his life. Brian’s individual needs, abilities, and interests could be met within the scope of work done at Macdonald House.
While the team was confident that Brian could rebuild his life in a supported setting like Macdonald House, there was no anticipation that he would ever be able to live independently. However, after 7 years, Brian had not only redesigned his life, he was medically stable, working part-time, and ready to transition from Macdonald House to living independently with supports.
Brian, albeit with the new challenges of learning to budget his money, pay rent, and learning to cook and maintain an apartment, was able to move from Macdonald House into a new community where he continued to thrive. Today, after three years in an apartment with supports, Brian is now living in a market rent building that has no supports. He continues to receive minimal community support to monitor medications and to assist him with grocery shopping and attending appointments. He has maintained the same part-time job and has built meaningful connections with those he has met along the way.
This photo is of Brian playing with his support worker’s newborn baby.

Owning Your Choice

In our individualistic society, we are encouraged to own our choice — to take responsibility for the choices we make and the implications and end results of those choices.  This all seems very logical and straightforward, until we start to think about how our choices may impact others. In yesterday’s Times Colonist, (Feb 14, 2016: Don’t Jump the Gun on Concussion Dangers) Lawrie McFarlane reminds us that there are always 2 sides to the debate about sports related brain injuries. He questions the depth and validity of brain injury research, implying that it is skewed as it is only testing athletes who have engaged in impact sports. Secondly, he questions whether these same athletes should be allowed to make their own choices about their livelihoods and the possible long term health risks associated with that. He concludes with this thought: “But if a small number of young men see contact sports as a ticket to a prosperous future, and willingly take the risk, don’t they own that choice?”

Both of his questions are valid but only touch the surface of the issues related to brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries are like snowflakes — no two are alike or can be treated or diagnosed in the same way. The physical effects of brain injury can only be documented and researched postmortem, which naturally restricts research. And there is no question that more research is needed on the non-sports related population. In order to accomplish this, a nation wide data base of concussions and brain injury needs to be developed so that brain injury survivors can be tracked across their lifetimes.

But more importantly, we need to consider this question of owning our choices. At what point do our choices affect others? When a traumatic brain injury occurs, the impact is wide reaching, not just for the survivor and their family, but for our society as a whole. Consider these statistics:

  • 53% of the homeless population has had a brain injury, up to 70% of them before they became homeless.
  • 90% of marriages end in divorce following a brain injury
  • 80% of prisoners have had at least one brain injury (Mind of Homelessness: 2014)

It is not difficult to see that there is a strong connection between brain injury and the breakdown of relationships, loss of jobs, addiction, homelessness and criminal behaviour. And, of course, all of these issues produce challenges that affect our society as a whole. The financial impact alone is startling:

  • $1500 per day for acute medical care — many brain injury survivors are in hospital for months.
  • $323 per day for prison

These are our tax dollars, funding the treatment and on-going care for people who “owned their choice” to engage in highly risky activities.

With around 22,000 new brain injuries in BC every year, the financial costs become astronomical. And that is without even considering the human costs: the breakdown of families, chronic unemployment and loss of self-sufficiency for survivors, and the loss of tax payers and employable individuals. The ripples continue to widen, and that is without even considering how our culture idolizes sports figures and encourages our children to engage in those same risky behaviours. Children are receiving their first sports related concussions at earlier ages, with more frequency and with longer ranging impacts. Is this what we want for our children? Is this what we want for our society?

Who owns the choice? 

For more information: or call 250 479 5299


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!

Child with football injury

Concussion – Movie review

The Uncomfortable Truth about Brain Injury

The truth is sometimes hard to hear – especially when it goes against popular thought, or against the heroes of our culture. Speaking the truth in those situations can be uncomfortable and even dangerous.  Uncomfortable truth is the story of Concussion, the movie about Dr Bennet Omalu. As the coroner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he had the opportunity to autopsy several NFL football players who had committed suicide. Dr Omalu came to the conclusion that their repetitive, sport-related brain injuries were causing depression, hallucinations, aggression, mental illness, and eventually death by suicide. Of course, this was a very unpopular discovery. Dr Omalu had to face censure and condemnation for his findings. But the truth is still the truth. Eventually scientific evidence proved a correlation between football and brain injury.  At one point in the movie, Dr Omalu begs a NFL doctor to just “tell the truth”. Dr Omalu wasn’t looking for personal gain or remuneration; he just wanted the truth about brain injury to be told.

What is the truth about brain injury? The truth is that 90% of brain injury is preventable… that sports related injuries account for a significant amount of total injuries and that repetitive brain injuries have a cumulative effect. It is also the truth that brain injuries and concussions in children can have lifelong consequences.

So if we know that this is the truth, the question needs to be asked: why are parents still encouraging their children to play violent sports? Why are we not, as a society, protecting the brains and livelihoods of our most precious resource?

The movie ends with Dr Omalu watching a local high school team practicing football… as their helmets crash together, the pain in his eyes is evident. Tell them the truth.

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.