For the staff of The Cridge Dovetail Program, offering women a second chance to build a life of security and fulfilment is the cornerstone of the work we do. For many of the women we work with, their time in our supportive housing is the first experience of safety in their entire lives. As a staff, we strive to ensure that we do all we can to make this second chance a success.
We recognize, however, that the pathway these women walk from violence towards safety is rocky, and sometimes completely impassable. The second chance we offer is not always possible for women. For some, it is the economic uncertainty they face: realizing that leaving the abuser means leaving financial security for themselves and their children can lead women back to the relationship. For others, it is the inability to protect their children from the abuser: when courts allow fathers partial custody, many women choose to return to him so that they can protect their kids. And yet for others, it is an addiction, brain injury, or the pull of a new relationship that impacts their journey. When the second chance falls apart, we do all we can to keep the door open. We strive to offer as many second chances as it takes.
Naomi is a mother of 2 sons. Since she left her abusive ex-husband, she has struggled financially. Her abusive ex had access to all of the family finances and the court system was taking forever to act. Coming up with the money to keep her boys clothed, fed and in their after-school activities was a huge challenge. A few months after moving into our housing, Naomi met a man in her ESL class who swept her off her feet. He offered her the love and security that she so desired, and she quickly notified us that she was moving out and into his home. We tried to persuade her to give it more time but the struggles she was experiencing, and the pull of this new “second chance,” was overwhelming.
We decided to keep the door open as wide as we could to Naomi. We stayed in touch and assured her that we would do whatever we could to offer her support if things fell apart. We prayed and prayed for Naomi and her sons. It didn’t take long for Naomi to realize that this new relationship was not the answer. Her new partner’s behaviour was beginning to resemble her ex-husband’s. She was embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but when she did, we were able to respond to her with understanding and acceptance. By God’s grace, we had a vacant unit and she was able to move back into the program… another second chance!
We know how challenging it is for women like Naomi, and we work and pray for a system that makes it easier for women to embrace their second chance and never look back.
By Candace Stretch, Manager of Supportive Housing & Family Services
As a parent of two boys, I’ve heard many ways of referring to our children and “identifying” them. Are they simply two boys? Two boys who have autism? Autistic children? Neurodiverse? Neurodivergent? Boys with special needs? Children who are not typical? Disabled boys? Boys with disabilities? Children with complex needs? I could go on and on, much like the debates on how it is appropriate to refer to someone.
Over the years our views on how to address, describe or identify our children has evolved and changed. As the boys have grown and matured they’ve started to be able to determine for themselves how they would like to be identified and if they want to be identified as anything other than boys at all. One thing I know for sure is not everybody is on the same page when it comes to this topic and there are a lot of strong opinions. People are different, we’re all different. How we each want to be identified or how we want others to refer to us is a personal choice that should be respected. If you need to or want to identify somebody and don’t know what their preference is, just ask.
At Cridge Respitality we support over 440 local families, all of whom have a child or children with a diagnosed disability. Our goal is to provide a parent/s or guardian with an opportunity once annually to do something special, something extra, something just for them. Whether it be a night away at one of our hotel partners, dinner out, or a performance at the theatre, free of charge, donated by our local business partners and community. Respitality is all about giving some love and care to the caregiver, to support them as they care for their children.
By Heather Stevens, The Cridge Respitality Program.
To learn more about The Cridge Respite & Respitaliy Program, visit this page.
Valentine’s can just pile more sadness on top of a tough time for women in a transition house. At CTHW, we mark the day with treats and special gifts that let women know they are loved and appreciated. Purdys Chocolates came up with the perfect chocolate treats for the occasion this year:
Our staff, Kathy, included one of these little boxes of chocolates in the beautiful gift bags she made for each woman. And among the unique gifts she put in these bags, she included a mirror compact with a message for each woman:
For the kids at CTHW, any day that starts off with chocolate is a good day. When I arrived at work on the morning of February 14, 3 little girls were bursting with excitement over their chocolate Valentine’s treats. They were dancing around me, showing me what they got, and then one of them squealed, “And the Easter Bunny brought us these!” You can always count on the Easter Bunny to keep it real!!!
By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House for Women.
I’m going to say a dirty word. Are you ready? Don’t be shocked!
Ugh. It’s that time of the year. Tax season. The worst time of the year and the worst way to spend a couple of hours (days?!?). I HATE doing my taxes. Are you with me?
However, there is one part that I like. Only one. Are you ready?
I like adding up my donation receipts to see how much I have given away to my favourite charities. I am usually surprised (am I REALLY that generous?!?) and often consider what else I could have done with that money. Things like holidays and renovations and new toys for my garden come to mind.
But then I stop and think about all the good things that my favourite charities have done with that money. They have helped people. Lots of people with lots of needs. So although they did the hands-on work, it was because of me and my donation that they were able to do it. And that makes me proud… and humble… and just really really grateful that I got to be a part of changing lives.
You can too – change a life. Donate today. You’ll be happy next year when tax season comes around!
By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development
Homelessness in Victoria is a problem. No one would ever say that the number of people living on our streets is acceptable. Rather, politicians, business people and local agencies work hard, speak often and advocate on behalf of the issue in hopes of finding a solution. More housing. More services. More detox beds. More mental health supports. More.
But what if instead of looking for more, we worked towards less? What if instead of spending tax dollars on treating the problem, we worked on preventing the problem? What if vulnerable people and families were supported before they became homeless? What if services were offered that prevented homelessness rather than put a bandaid on the gaping wound of multiple issues of entrenched homelessness? What would preventing homelessness look like? What would preventing homelessness look like to you?
By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development
We’ve had a lot of rain lately, haven’t we? I love the smell of rain! I don’t like what it does to my very curly hair. When it rains, I enjoy staying in and watching a movie with my family or going for a walk in our rain gear, me with my clear birdcage umbrella that reminds me of the one I had as a young girl.
Lately, Linda and I, at The Cridge Respite and Respitality, have been spending time thinking of ideas for things our program parent/s, guardians, or families might like to do throughout the year, some of which we’re hoping we can offer families in the future.
Rainy day activities could include:
• a visit to the library then home to read a book as a family or independently,
• a movie at the theatre, with popcorn of course,
• drop in at your neighbourhood rec centre for a swim where the water is warm,
• have a hot chocolate or a picnic outside at a park shelter and listen to the rain hit the roof,
• try an escape room for the first time,
• be a tourist in your home town,
• spend the night at a local hotel bundled up in a robe,
• visit the museum.
There are a lot of great things to do in our city when it seems like it’s endless rain — try something new, stick with something comfortable, or take time to slow down, relax, and smell the rain!
By Heather Stevens, The Cridge Respitality Services.
To learn more about The Cridge Respitality Services, please click the link.
The donations and support poured out to Cridge Transition House this Christmas was astounding and made Christmas so special for the women and children who were being sheltered over the holidays. The heartfelt generosity brought me to tears more than once. In all of the overwhelming, big, gratitude moments, there were also some very special small moments. In all of the busyness of doing the work and daily living, with Christmas layered on top, I want to tell you about a small moment that took my breath away.
At my own home, I’ve always relished the traditional pictures of kids with Santa displayed prominently on my fridge. First, it was pictures of my own kids, then grandchildren and the children of my children’s now-adult friends. I don’t know what it is about these pictures – maybe the hopeful, excited faces exuding confidence that they made it to the Nice List and stayed off the Naughty List! Maybe it’s just part of the Christmas magic. Whatever it is, those pictures cheer me, sustain me, and make me chuckle.
As I rushed through the transition house kitchen on a typically busy December morning, something on the fridge caught my eye. There was a picture of Santa with two of the little boys currently living at the house, stuck to the fridge door with a magnet. Knowing these two well, it was amazing in and of itself to see them sitting still long enough to have their picture taken. But it was sitting with Santa with beaming smiles – the confident Nice List faces – that stopped in my tracks. Those little faces on the fridge door magically transformed our shelter into a home – a safe place where your child’s picture with Santa belongs. Like the pictures on my fridge, that picture cheers me, sustains me, and makes me chuckle. And this one reminds me of how blessed I am that a mom who has endured so much, is able to enjoy and share some Christmas magic with me. I wish her many years of a safe, loving home with a fridge covered in Santa pictures.
By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House for Women
The 3rd Monday of January is called “Blue Monday”. The term “Blue Monday” was introduced as a marketing strategy to encourage people to buy winter get-away trips. However, in British Columbia, winter months pose serious challenges for the elderly – lousy weather limits mobility, lack of sunlight and isolation create a stark contrast with the recent holiday season when the family is visiting, days are occupied in planning, shopping, and gift-giving. Our world has changed and now many independent-living seniors can’t rely on the closest neighbour’s fellowship like it was so common before.
We asked our manager of The Cridge Seniors’ Services, Sarah Smith, about the best strategies to overcome the feeling of loneliness and isolation. “Visiting is the biggest thing”, Sarah responded. “They need their families!”
For seniors, it is also about learning how to dance in the storm. Here are some other tips that might help to overcome the January Blues.
- Talk to your family about it
Sometimes we feel uncomfortable bringing up feelings of sadness and loneliness that we experience. Your family won’t consider it to be a burden and it might make you feel better – the knowledge that you are heard and supported.
- Connect with others
Consider joining a club or inviting an old friend over for tea. If it is hard for you to get out of the house, consider dialling the number – you might be surprised how much joy comes from a nice old fashioned chat on the phone.
- Create a list of New Years’ resolutions
Write down your thoughts and wishes – this can make a big difference in how you perceive your life. Your goals don’t have to be grandiose – it can be about a few important things: decide to read a new book every month, drink enough water or make new friends – or perhaps you want to learn a new skill! It is never too late to learn something new and exciting.
- Make your home safer
Think smart – most of the falls and injuries that occur at home are preventable. Make sure you have a list of all the important phone numbers on your fridge, carry a cell phone with you when going for a walk, keep a working flashlight on the nightstand and make sure that throw rugs are not movable and won’t slip underneath you.
- Connect with community services
Many seniors choose to volunteer in a local museum or a charity. In Victoria, community centers offer a variety of senior-oriented activities that will help you to connect with peers and brighten up your day. If you are feeling isolated and overwhelmed, you can always reach out to support services like BC211 or call 811. Here are some other support services that make a difference in our community:
Living Life to the Full – is a free, interactive, facilitated 8-week course for youth, adults, and seniors based on the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) that improves resilience, mood, well-being, anxiety, and social support. Available in Chinese, French and English. For more information, call 250-216-4228
Seniors Serving Seniors – is a telephone line that provides comprehensive information and referral to resources for seniors available throughout the region. Office and Senior Link hours are 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday. Dial Senior Link at 250-413-3211
Let me explain. Somewhere around Halloween, I start avoiding stores. If there are Christmas decorations up in November, I quickly avert my eyes and grumble under my breath. When people start counting down to Christmas in July (you know who you are!), I roll my eyes. And if I hear one more version of “Let it Snow”, I might just scream.
But I LOVE Christmas. I love the smell of Christmas trees, the twinkling of lights and candles, and seeing our Groundskeeper in his Santa hat waving at the kids in our playground. I love the children’s visits to our seniors, bringing songs and hand-made cards and a healthy dose of childish excitement and innocence. But most of all, I LOVE seeing the pure unadulterated joy of the many people who come to our door with their arms loaded full of gifts for our families. There have been more than just a few tears shed, by generous donors, by our staff and most especially by our families.
Here are a few highlights:
A woman called wanting to find a place to donate on behalf of her family. She wanted their gift to make a difference in our community. By the end of the call, she was weeping with gratitude that she and her family would get to make such an impact in the lives of women leaving abusive relationships. Tears and pure joy!
For the second year in a row, a local family has adopted one of our families and created Christmas for them. Not just gifts, but decorations and wrap, gift cards for restaurants, movies and food, and even treats for the cat – all given with pure joy! And the mom who received this bounty… she cried, she was speechless, and perhaps most importantly, she promised that one day she would do the same for a family in need.
Another family, with a few work friends, pooled together their Christmas bonuses and hit Walmart. Their young children helped to choose items that they thought were most important (Peppa Pig toothpaste ranked high on the list!). Bags and bags of love and care – all given with pure joy!
What an incredible honour it is to see the generosity and the JOY with which it is given. So if you are feeling a bit grinchy, and the glitz and tinny music are getting on your nerves, consider giving some joy to someone who needs it. It will bless you more than you can imagine!
By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development