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

 

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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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.

Finding a Home for Refugee Families

The Cridge Centre for the Family’s Supportive Transitional Housing provides low-cost housing to women and children fleeing violence, and immigrant and refugee families, for a period of up to 3 years. Between our Hayward Heights and Mary Cridge Manor properties, we have 44 units of housing, ranging from bachelor suites to 4 bedroom units. The women and children that live in our housing can access the support of one of our Dovetail program staff, who help them work through the pain of what has happened and make plans for a safe and vital future.

The various stories of how individuals and families come to live in The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing are a wonderful example of God’s guiding presence. About a year ago, we welcomed Marnie, a woman who had survived life in a refugee camp in a war-torn country for years before coming to Canada. Marnie settled into life in Victoria and was able to make a connection to our community through the support of her Dovetail support worker and others.

After several months of living with us, Marnie got word that Mary, the woman she had lived with in the refugee camp, had made her way to Canada. She immediately made arrangements to have Mary come for a visit to Victoria. The friendship that Marnie and Mary shared was an incredibly profound thing to witness. From the moment they were reunited, these two friends could not imagine being apart. Through God’s timing and provision, a new unit was made available in our housing. We were able to offer Mary housing just a few doors down from her dear friend.

The chance to be a part of the rebuilding of women’s lives after they escape violent partners or political situations is truly and honor and a blessing to us. The story of Marnie and Mary serves as an example of God’s faithfulness and the power of friendship.

Diversity and Acceptance in Children

 

Diversity and acceptance are one and the same to children.

Society, in general, invests a great deal of time and money into educating people (adults) about community inclusion, which is about a person having social interactions and meaningful relationships with people who are not paid staff and that the relationship benefits both parties.

This picture shows two toddlers who are daycare buddies. The little girl approached Atticus, who uses a pacer to walk with, and offered him the doll stroller. When Atticus took the stroller, the little girl went behind him and pushed his walker so he could push the stroller. When some twigs and rocks stopped Atticus from moving, she stopped and stepped to the front clearing the debris and then resumed pushing his pacer and they were off again on their little adventure.

This little girl didn’t worry about being “politically correct” or if she would insult Atticus by taking charge to help him experience the thrill of pushing a doll stroller. In her little heart she felt, “Atticus is my friend,” and in her mind she said, “We can do this together.”

As adults, if we strive to emulate the love of children, we can make a stronger community that is inclusive, loving, and has no barriers.

Janelle Breese Biagioni

Karen’s Story of Loss and Rebuilding

 

February 2, 2015 is a day that Karen will never forget – it was a life changing day. While Karen was at work, the house where she rented a suite was consumed by a fire, taking with it her 3 beloved cats. At that point, Karen’s life changed.  She lost everything and began a new journey of rebuilding.

Karen Abrahamson is a Family Support Worker at The Cridge.  She has been working with our women’s programs for 15 years as a counselor, advocate and front line support worker. She also coordinates the volunteers with the Dovetail program and Transition House. Karen is a woman of great passion and integrity – a powerhouse and fierce advocate. She is the type of person who will stand in the gap and not back down until her client receives the help that she needs. Karen is dedicated and strong – someone to be counted on and trusted.  She is admired and valued tremendously.

So when Karen lost everything in the fire, we were all shaken to see her grief. This strong woman was just like the rest of us – vulnerable, hurting and broken with loss. She spent the next month living in The Cridge Seniors Centre guest suite and taking time in between work to rebuild her life. During the last 3 months, Karen has walked a hard road. She admits that in the past she was always the strong one – the one who helped others.  But now she was in need, broken and grieving – and needed help.  Even though at times she was unable to articulate that need, she says that she was so blessed to receive help and support at every turn. The love and care that showered over her from The Cridge family, and the wider Cridge community, was often overwhelming to her. She received so much and is so very grateful.

Karen knows that her journey through this painful time is not over – there is more healing to be done. But she does see that it has given her a better understanding of what the women she works with go through – she understands losing all her worldly possessions, she understands loss and grieving and the difficult and painful process of rebuilding a life. Karen would never wish such an experience on anyone, but she knows that God will use this experience to make her a stronger person and an even more compassionate advocate for women.

We are so blessed to have Karen in The Cridge family. She is an essential part of what makes us a successful and life-giving family as we continue to work in the community to serve those in need. Karen is an amazing example of our motto – that love is the bottom line.

Our Food: Fresh, Local & Healthy

Nik Milonas: Executive Chef of The Cridge Seniors Village Centre

 

When it comes to food there’s nothing better than something that is raised, harvested or produced locally. The benefits in procuring local ingredients for your table are many. To begin with, you help support our local community and economy. From agriculture to hospitality to the retail food market, the jobs are many and keeping them here ensures not only a viable local economy but also our welfare.  Secondly the food is of the highest quality: it hasn’t traveled very far therefore it retains its freshness and nutrition longer, making it taste better. You also help support biodiversity because our farmers are able to grow several varieties that are specific to our region. They all work in balance with our environment and thereby produce some exceptional products.

We are lucky to live in British Columbia where a temperate climate produces a wide range of diverse crops from apples and pears in the fall, berries and cherries in the summer to grapes that are being used to make top quality wines. Besides crops, there are local chicken farmers in Metchosin and Sooke, and in the Cowichan Valley along with local ranches that raise cattle, pigs and turkeys.

Chefs everywhere have an ethical responsibility in the management of our food supply because they buy in bulk which has a global impact on our food chain. For me, building relationships with people who grow our food is absolutely essential in providing healthy nutritious meals to everyone at The Cridge Village Seniors Centre. So sustainability is a key element in the choices we make when it comes to creating our menus and purchasing our food. This has become the trend, especially over the last ten years, as more people insist not only on excellent value but recognize the role nutrition has on our health and the environment. Many of the restaurants and hotels in Victoria feature local products, recognizing the customers demand for domestic, fresh, artisan made products. I’ve been fortunate enough to build some strong relationships with many local producers, like Cowichan Valley Meat Market who have a large store in Duncan and a family farm in Chemainus. They really take pride in how they raise their animals. They are free of antibiotics and growth hormones, and are allowed to graze on large pastures living in balance with nature. You can really taste the difference.

Another local supplier is Gavin’s Fresh Herbs who absolutely loves his craft and grows amazingly fragrant and beautiful plants. Sysco supplies us with all our seafood, primarily from Ocean Wise. This is a program set up by the Vancouver Aquarium to conserve, educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. Next time you’re in the grocery store, look for their logo. Saanich Organics is a co-operative farming community that supplies us with some produce during the spring, summer and autumn seasons. You will find their farmers selling amazingly beautiful and delicious produce at the Moss St. Market and the Victoria Public Market, as well as various other markets. Along with GFS, Sysco and Islands West Produce we are able to acquire high quality products for the best value that we can offer our residents, guests and staff. I encourage you to make an effort and build relationships with your butcher, your baker and your farmer; I guarantee you a really tasty experience that you can feel great about!

SunFun has a new look!

Davina Antonik: School Age Care Coordinator

SunFun Logo Colour

We are excited to unveil the brand new SunFun logo and tag phrase!  The Childcare Management team, in conjunction with a graphic designer from Mega Screen Studios, have been working throughout the New Year to create a super awesome visual to capture the meaning of our summer SunFun program.  The creation process really led us to look at the purpose of SunFun and what makes our program different from the many other summer programs for kids in the Victoria area.  What we realized is that we offer A LOT, and really are a truly unique service for our community. 

Yes, we offer a fun, safe place to send your kids with cool out trips, games, crafts and more.  What really makes us unique, is that we offer a lifestyle of child-centred, faith-based, inclusive exploration for children to really play, discover, and believe in themselves and the world around them.  Hence our new tag line: play, discover, believe…  Perhaps only other grammar nerds like myself will appreciate the open-endedness of the …, but I think it really speaks to the endless possibilities children may take away from attending SunFun.  Unlike other day-camps, SunFun provides summer fun on a grand-scale.  We are so blessed by our generous grants to go on amazing out-trips like Wild-play, trips up to Youbou Lake, an overnight slumber party at a local church, and everything else you could imagine.  Many families would not be able to provide such awesome activities for their children, and we are able to offer these experiences without any additional fees for the families.  Not to mention a shiny, new fully-inclusive playground on site for our daily use! 

The support and prayers from our Board of Directors, Management Team of The Cridge, and local Churches provide a rich foundation that many clients wouldn’t notice, but we know is a true God-send.  Our high-caliber and well-rounded summer staff is another aspect that sets our program apart from others.  The Cridge Centre attracts quality people and we are proud to have a staff comprised of certified teachers, future teachers, a future doctor, and a future natural biologist.  The skill set of this amazing team enriches our programming beyond belief so that each person can bring a new passion to programming and help engage a wide spectrum of children’s interests.  We are truly blessed.

Summer day-camps have become a very competitive market.  Compound this with low-enrollment across the city and you can see why we have set ourselves a lofty goal of being fully-enrolled for each week this summer.  Keep an eye out for our new logo in Island Parent Magazine, Kids In Victoria website, CHEK News website and other spots around town.  Even with this new ad-campaign we have always found it is word-of mouth referrals that provide the best advertising.  Our past and current clients and community partners are our best sources for success stories with new families.  During the current registration time we are blessed to hear such wonderful referrals on an almost-daily basis.  Please share about the awesome experiences SunFun can offer families with children Kindergarten to Grade 7.  Thanks for all your support in making SunFun 2015 one for the books!

To register, click here.