The people we serve have rich stories of their own that they generously allow us to share from time to time. Here are some of those stories.

Let’s just do it, OK?

by Marlene Goley, Manager of Cridge Transition House for Women and Outreach Services

For Beata, our Cridge Transition House Outreach Worker, the “no wrong door” approach can translate into, “Let’s just do it, okay?”

Beata has been working with a woman for many months who had so many set-backs, she was ready to just give up. Her ex-husband was not allowing their child to spend time with her; he was not paying any support; his mother was harassing her with false reports to the Ministry of Child and Family Development; and her Legal Aid lawyer seemed more interested in representing her ex’s interests than in hers. She requested a change of lawyers through Legal Aid but was denied with no clear reason given. Small wonder that she was ready to just give up.

Enter Beata who talked to this woman about how the Justice Access Centre could help her prepare for court and she could represent herself. The woman had little confidence that this would have a good outcome. Finally, Beata said, “Let’s just do it, okay?” It really wasn’t a question.

Beata took her to the Justice Access Centre and helped her figure out what she had to do. The woman carefully followed the instructions she was given and with Beata’s support, went to the scheduled court date. Although she was up against her husband’s lawyer, she presented her case so well that the judge ordered that her ex must facilitate 50-50 access with their child, that he pay her child support, and that he attend counselling. This success helped her reclaim her confidence and determination. Now she is the first one to say, “Let’s just do it, okay?”

Baking Brings Inspiration

The Cridge Transition House for Women brings together women and children from many backgrounds, experiences and life styles. Making it all work is really a leap of faith. It turns out that leaping in faith can have some pretty awesome results.

Not so long ago, a woman staying at the transition really liked to bake in the evenings.  It was how she unwound and processed her day.  At the same time there was a 13 year old boy staying with his mom.  He was doing okay but it was a bit awkward for him, as it often is for older boys, to be living in a house full of women and small children.  One evening our baking resident decided to bake Halloween cookies.  This boy asked her if he could help. She was thrilled to have him join her. They made delicious ghost cookies with purple icing!

Her encouragement of his interest in baking lit a spark! He made a batch of cookies on his own a few days later.  They didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped so he anxiously waited for his baking “mentor” to come home to “debrief” and figure out what went wrong.  Encouraged by her to keep trying, he baked cinnamon buns for everyone one evening while the women were making jewelry in the dining room.  Apparently the cinnamon buns turned out more like doughnuts. (I wouldn’t know because there wasn’t even a crumb left the next day). He was disappointed and asked the women what he could do differently. There was a loud chorus of, “Nothing!” Clearly, no one else was disappointed in the results!  Then everyone started telling him what a bright future he could have if he pursues his interest and talent for cooking.  He was so proud and inspired.

A leap of faith can be magic, bringing together people who didn’t know how much they needed each other!

Yours in faith but alas no cinnamon buns,

Marlene Goley

 

Success after Brain Injury: Kevin

Kevin sustained an acquired brain injury from a fall in 2009.  As a result, he experiences physical stiffness and cognitive challenges. Kevin does have good insight into his limitations and he works hard to pace himself accordingly.

Kevin will not allow his brain injury to hold him back. He does have struggles, but everyday he makes a commitment to live well and to get out and be a part of his community. In fact, if you are one of the lucky people to pass Kevin walking down the street or sitting beside him on a bus, you will likely be the recipient of his warm smile and often a “Good morning, friend.”

Kevin’s warm personality is engaging and he generally enjoys being with people. He has a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and likes to be an encourager to others.

After Kevin’s injury, he was faced with many day-to-day challenges. He worked through speech difficulties, fatigue issues, learning coping strategies to avoid verbal outbursts and how to deal with outside stimuli, like excessive noise. Like many other individuals, Kevin also struggled with substance use; however, he has worked on his recovery and this is now behind him.

Kevin lives his life to the fullest by using strategies daily. For example, he uses a pocket calendar, smart phone for texting and recording information, doctors’ appointments and his to-do list. Kevin does not shy away from work by any means. In fact, one of the struggles Kevin still faces today is putting the needs of others first. He needs to remind himself daily that his care plan needs to come first so he can be of service to others.

Kevin has a variety of interests including gardening, cooking, poetry writing, doing research, and building things. His connection with The Cridge came through volunteering at Macdonald House. He then went on to participate in our community kitchen and became involved with the Kale King program. Kevin’s interest in gardening and cooking was advantageous to this program as he quickly became a lead team member in gardening, cookie-making and selling products at the night market. Kevin now serves in the Daycare Breakfast Program and has made a great connection with the staff and children.

Kevin also proudly completed his diploma in Community, Family and Child Studies through Camosun College in 2014 – the same year he joined Kale Kings. In 2015, Kevin moved in to Mary Cridge Manor to further develop social interests and employment goals. Kevin is an avid volunteer too. He continues to work on yard maintenance at Macdonald House and cooks and delivers vegetarian meals weekly through the Food Not Bombs program.

The Joy of Respitality

By Candace Stretch, Manager of Supportive Housing and Family Services

The Cridge Respitality Program is a fantastic example of how the community can come together, with joy, to support families in need.
Each month, 20-30 exhausted parents of children with special needs and mental health challenges get to experience the break of an overnight stay at a beautiful hotel. Making that happen for families is quite a process; one that involves many key players. From the family-serving agencies who refer parents to Respitality, to the hotel partners who generously donate overnight stays, to our team of volunteers who assemble gift baskets for each family, to 2 incredibly passionate staff members who bring it all together —  it is a team effort!
What makes Respitality so special is that everyone who participates feels such joy in being able to give. The testimonials below, from individuals and agencies involved in Respitality in very different ways, reflect the incredible value of this wonderful program.
But, always, the true joy of Respitality is the impact that is has on the life of parents. The restoration, hope and rest that Respitality brings to families is a gift to us all! Read what our partners and families tell us:

A lot of our members love your program.  Keep up the great work and thank the ladies that make up those gift baskets!   — Victoria Society for Children with Autism

Respitality is a great community involvement tool for us. It is great to be able to help out families that are a part of Respitality… and to give back to the community.  — Manager of Bear Mountain Resort

Thank you for the amazing respite you provide.  We got to forget all about our grueling life for a whole magical evening.  — Respitality Parent

Computer Mentor for Seniors

By Alison Chamberlain

Misha comes into the Seniors’ Centre weekly to be a computer mentor to our seniors. He assists staff in providing technological assistance to the seniors in the building. Whether it is the senior’s own laptop, computer, iPad, smart phone, printer or other piece of technology, he is booked by half hour sessions to assist in the use, exploration or troubleshooting of these items.

By being very knowledgeable about both the item and how to walk a senior through the steps, Misha helps each senior to engage with it more easily and enjoyably. By helping them, he is allowing The Cridge Village Seniors Centre to support senior access and exposure to technology and our digital world. By taking the time to write down steps for the senior, he breaks the barrier of confusion or frustration with a device and allows them to build confidence.  Misha bridges a technology gap between generations while he gets the chance to engage meaningfully with his skill set as he decides his career path in college.

We are so grateful for Misha!

Clients becoming Volunteers

By Tori Woodford  (Community Program Coordinator with Cridge Brain Injury Services)

Sometimes our clients become some of our most dedicated and passionate volunteers. We strongly encourage our clients to give back and share their stories, passions, and gifts with others. This comes out in various volunteer opportunities our clients participate in. Some examples include:

  1. Jumbles/Comic Cards: Volunteers get together and create word puzzles which are then presented to seniors living at Cridge Village. In the near future these Jumbles will also be a part of a community magazine promoting brain health through cognitive exercises, called MindXMagazine. Volunteers also created comics that were produced into cards, promoting humour and a “lighter side” of life.
  2. Brain Injury Awareness and Prevention: Volunteers join facilitator, Greg Goldberg, on his adventures to various schools where he presents his helmet safety presentation, Mr. Tomato Head. Volunteers share their experiences with head injury.

These opportunities relate directly to our work in brain injury services, because it’s client themselves volunteering. These examples are not part of our regular rehab programming which clients have an expectation to participate in, but instead are opportunities created around client interest and desire. These assignments provide social interaction and cognitive rehab opportunities, while also fostering personal growth, compassion and resilience. And the community receives awareness, education, and products. It’s a win-win!

For more information about our Brain Injury Services, click here.

Gifts that give wholeness

Michelle is the owner of a local gift shop that has faithfully donated their unsold merchandise to The Cridge for many years. This merchandise has been distributed to tenants of Cridge housing (women fleeing intimate partner violence and immigrant/refugee families) , as well as clients of our Cridge Transition House outreach in the community.

Recently, Michelle stepped forward to take on a volunteer role in helping us to distribute donations to clients. She created a beautiful, free “gift shop” called Oasis, that women can come and select items for their home, gifts for their children, and personal items such a jewelry for themselves. Michelle opens the store weekly, and uses her natural sales abilities as well as her huge heart of compassion to support women to select items. Steve, from Educators.co.uk says that “this will help them to feel proud of their new home, and their new violence-free life.”

The difficult journey from violence to safety, from persecution to freedom is paved with love, care, grace, mercy and kindness by this volunteer’s vision and efforts.  She walks alongside us to create success and beauty in lives that are damaged by violence and pain, and in doing so, is helping create a path to health and wholeness.

 

Garth Homer Volunteers

Twice a week three Garth Homer Adult Day Program clients, who are adults living with developmental disabilities, visit the Seniors’ Center with an aide. On these two visits each week they run activity programs for the Seniors such as Wii Bowling, Dice and Bingo. They have been involved in crafts, decorating and social visits as well.

Each participant contributes at their own ability either cheering a senior on, calling Bingo numbers or rolling the dice alongside a senior. They are participants in the programming they deliver and coming to The Cridge provides them with a feeling of connection, friendship and meaningful service. These wonderful volunteers engage with the residents, developing long term service relationships which assist The Cridge Village Seniors’ Centre in providing our seniors with access to mental, social and physical opportunities. It also assists us with our desire to create and maintain meaningful and strong community partnerships which have the seniors engaging with a diverse cross-section of our community.

Working alongside our Recreation Coordinator, these volunteers are a tremendous asset to the care and service we provide to our assisted living clients. It is a wonderful thing to see those with developmental disabilities working successfully for the well being and enrichment of our seniors – helping BOTH to continue to achieve their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical and social potential.

 

Volunteering is life changing

My volunteer experience with The Cridge Centre for the Family Dovetail Program and The Cridge Transition House for Women has been a life changing and fulfilling experience. I decided last year, later in life, that I wanted to make a career change into the social work field. I search extensively to pick an organization that I wanted to volunteer with and I decided The Cridge Centre was a perfect fit for me.

From the moment I contacted Karen about volunteer opportunities, she has been nothing short of wonderful. She has made sure throughout the process that the volunteer work I am doing is both meaningful to me as a social work student, the clients I am privileged to work with and the organization as a whole.

I started my volunteer role at The Cridge Transition House helping with a variety of tasks that span from driving residents to appointments to cooking, cleaning and child care. This original opportunity has blossomed into working with Karen at the Dovetail Program, assisting her with accompanying clients to Vancouver for Immigration and Refugee hearings, attending court with clients and preparing briefings for lawyers to assist in ongoing client court cases. This experience has been invaluable to my training to be a social worker. I have enjoyed my volunteer experience so immensely that I will be doing my first practicum at The Cridge Transition House this Fall.

From Abuse to Respect

by Marlene Goley

Amber tried for years to leave her abusive husband.  It was so hard. There was never enough money and she needed help with the children.  She returned to her abusive husband again and again.  Child protection workers said Amber could not protect her children from witnessing the abuse she endured at the hands of her husband. Her children were removed and put in foster care.

When child protection told Amber that she would likely never have her children returned to her, Amber decided to fight.  She told her husband she was choosing her children over him and got the legal help she needed to get him to leave and stay away from her.  Then she focused on her children’s needs.  She set up family counselling, individual counselling, and accessed all the support she could to put the pieces of her life back together.  It was all too much for her adolescent son who couldn’t believe that he had seen the end of his mother’s bruised and swollen arms and face.  He repeatedly said that he wanted to stay in foster care.  Amber persevered. Visits increased. Amber set firm expectations about how everyone in their family were to behave and treat each other.  There was a lot of testing.  Amber stayed firm in her resolve.  The result? Last month, Amber and her son went to court, together, to request that the care order be removed.  The judge agreed it was time.  Her son returned home happily.  Amber has her family back and they are all proud of their safe, respectful new life.

For more information about our Cridge Transition House for Women