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.

Small Things Make A Difference

Tom came home, fuming. His mom could see his anger as soon as he stepped off the school bus. It took some prodding and time to get it out of him, but eventually, his emotions got the better of him, and his frustration exploded out of him. Tom LOVES grapes. And he was so mad that his grade 4 classmates were chucking grapes at each other during lunch. Tom knew that grapes are expensive because his mom rarely bought them – for Tom, grapes were a huge treat. So seeing his classmates throw them around and squish them underfoot just made him angry. Why could some kids afford to waste grapes when his family couldn’t even afford to buy them? Life was not fair, and Tom was mad.

Sometimes it is the smallest things that make a child aware that they are not as “equal” as their peers – the food in their lunch box, the second-hand clothing, or perhaps not being able to go on a field trip because of the cost. These small things can become very big issues when a child is identified by their peers as being “poor” and are treated differently or bullied as a result, or it can result in the child losing their self-confidence and considering themselves to be less than their peers or even being incapable of success. Small things can become life-changing events for children facing challenges.

At The Cridge Centre Childcare program, we work hard to make sure that all children are loved and supported to reach their full potential. We go out of our way to make sure that children facing barriers are not excluded or defined by their challenge. For example, the breakfast program is for all the kids, not just those who don’t get a healthy breakfast at home. Everyone should get to enjoy grapes!

Giving kids a healthy and secure start to life is one step to growing a stronger community, one precious life at a time. We need your support to make sure that all our children have equal opportunities to grow, learn and thrive. Please give generously to help kids like Tom!

To support children like Tom click donate.

Young Parent Outreach Program: Creating a Village

It takes a village to raise a child: a team made up of parents, grandparents, extended family, and community members. But many young families are alone and isolated, with no village to support them in parenting.

Being a parent – especially a low-income single parent – is an immense amount of work: sleepless nights, early morning commutes, trips to food banks and always the challenge of making ends meet. Add to that a sense of guilt or maybe even shame – the feeling of not being a good enough parent for your child.  Don’t mention the inability to find a well-paid job because many employers can’t or don’t want to accommodate changing hours and sick days. Or the inability to find a job with a living wage because of your unfinished education. All of these challenges lead to stressed out and vulnerable parents, struggling to get by every month.

This story is not unusual or rare. In fact, 19% of all children live with a single parent in Canada.

The Cridge Young Parent Outreach program was designed to help young mothers-to-be, single parents, and young families to overcome the challenges of parenting, develop and strengthen bonds between parents and children and help with everyday problems. The Young Parent Outreach program is the “village” and extended family that our young families need.

When you donate to The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program, you help a vulnerable family find support in their everyday battles with practical and portable help when and where they need it most. With your ongoing support, we will help to grow a new generation of researchers, engineers, doctors or simply good people who care about the world around them.

To learn more about The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program, click here.

The Cridge Nursery Then and Now

Hello, my name is Brenda, and I have volunteered to write a short article about The Cridge Nursery, which happens to be a part of my own story. This is my third time working here over the last 32 years, and it is interesting to reflect upon what is different and what has remained the same. I am also thinking about the stages and events of one’s life and all the programs and opportunities available here. A lot of development has been happening in the field of early childhood education. Also, parenting styles have changed over the last three decades. The reasons for choosing to work here are both personal and very much about being a part of something bigger than yourself mostly though it comes back to being about the people.

What is different between the 1980s and now? The biggest thing would be maternity leaves increasing from six months to a year. It was tricky at times to juggle the needs of infants and crawlers and walkers all in the same playroom, but I still had the energy to attend evening classes for my Infant/Toddler Diploma with “Joy Joy” (Joy Smith). The nursery program expanded from a classroom in the main building to a renovated townhouse which now houses programs for families. One of the first babies there was Paula’s West-Patrick’s son Matthew. Paula was also an infant-toddler care provider at the time, and now these many years later is the Manager of Children’s Services for The Cridge Centre.

I got married the same month as Janine Davies in 1991 (who has worked for The Cridge since 1988 herself) and moved on to new adventures including parenthood. As my son and daughter reached school age, I was ready to return first as the kitchen/laundry/lunch relief assistant and eventually as the Preschool teacher. After watching the new childcare building go up, it was exciting to move into a beautiful new classroom. My former Wiseways Preschool boss Mimi Davis was in the boardroom next door with the Respitality program. As a bus driver, there were many field trips for preschool and daycare, and occasional school drop-offs and pickups to help out. When I subbed during summers, my children attended a few weeks of High 5’s with Angela Brunwald and Marianne Jacques or SunFun with Sarah Smith and crew. My working helped us buy a house for my fortieth birthday, which led to a decade of daycare in my home.

Now my family daycare babies are in school, and my twenty-somethings are happier living in an adult-focused home. After taking a 6-month break to deal with some middle age health issues, friends at The Cridge encouraged me to try relief work. I am settling in nicely, not only am I caring for former children’s children, but even some coworkers were children formerly in my care! I look around the daycare and main office and other programs today and see many familiar faces. I am loving the freedom of subbing in a busy multicultural, multiage, diversely socio-economic organization. It’s a great place to hang out for a few years and work on my future Grandma skills.

To learn more about The Cridge Childcare Services click here.

Small Things Make a Big Difference

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House and Outreach Services

Imagine being 12 years old and fleeing to a transition house with your mom.  You are relieved to be away from your dad’s scary, angry outbursts. But now you are in a strange house, sharing a room with your mom, and parachuting into a new school – who knows for how long.  Everything in your world is upside down.

There is a bright spot, though.  Your new school is great, and the kids and teachers are lovely.  And – best of all, the end-of-year camping trip is coming up. Even though you’ve only been in the class for a couple of weeks, you’re invited to go along. Everyone in your class is talking about how fun it’s going to be.

What you don’t know, and don’t need to know is that because you haven’t been a part of the fundraising all year, your mom needs to pay the whole cost of the trip.  You don’t need to know that your mom has no way to come up with this kind of money, has asked CTHW for help, and thanks to the generous donors that make a small contingency fund possible, a cheque was made out and delivered to your school.  All you need to know is that you are going camping with your class, and you can join in the excitement of having some “kid fun.”

This is a small thing in your 12-year-old world filled with adult worries.  But what you’ll learn is that it’s the little things that will help you through.

To learn more about The Cridge Transition House for Women.

A Welcoming Space

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House and Outreach Services

The impact of having a designated Young Parent Outreach Program space where Nicole can gather with her young moms and their children has been incredible. Moms drop by to go through the clothing donations. On Thursdays, the Music Group is a big draw and moms linger afterward to gather up food picked up from the Food Share Program. Nicole and Moms enjoy having more space to meet and connect and to get applications done. Moms can come and “settle.” Space has even impacted our youngest clients. A mom dropped by with her 3-year-old little girl to go through donations and pick up some food. The 3-year-old ran into the new Young Parent Outreach Program space, threw out her arms and said, “This space is so wonderful!” How awesome to have a space to welcome them all!

Valentine’s Dinner for Seniors

A few times a year we have a very special dinner with our residents – a Candlelit Dinner in December, a Mother’s Day Dinner and Valentine’s Dinner.

For these occasions, we break with the norm and order linens for the tables, flowers, chocolates for each place setting and have a menu printed up for each table.

The menu, which is always excellent, is bumped up a notch or two as well, and wine is served for those who would like it.

Everyone enjoys the extra fanfare –  staff setting the tables have fun preparing for the event, residents get dolled up in their fanciest clothes, the cooks work so hard to prepare a fantastic meal, and there is a generally festive atmosphere.  The gasps from the residents and their guests when they walk into the beautiful room are so heartwarming to hear and certainly makes all the extra work worth every second.

I received this card from a family member of a resident today: “As I was walking past the dining room, I had to smile. The tables were being set for dinner. The table settings were a marvel: homemade paper flowers and napkins in hues of pink. I know how hard you all work to involve your seniors – to give them a sense of fun, to care for their health and their spirits, and to let them know – in so many ways – that this is a special place they call home.”

A special place called home? I honestly don’t think we could do any better than that.

 

To learn more about The Cridge Centre Services visit cridge.org

Difficult Choices

By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development

There are times when parents need to make difficult choices. Choices about schools, caregivers, access to digital media, or diet. The decisions are pretty much never ending – some easier than others, but always more to be made. For many of our families, the decisions are often either/or decisions. Do I buy fresh fruit or pay for my child to go on a school field trip? New shoes or cold medicine for the 5-year-old? A bus pass to get to work or a birthday present for the 10-year-old? These are hard decisions in the no-win situation of living in poverty.

Recently one of our families had to make an extremely difficult decision. Would they pay for childcare for their child with special needs OR pay for essential medical care for their other child that isn’t covered under our medical services? How does a parent choose between the real and significant needs of their children?

It is in situations like this that we are grateful and honoured to be able to step in and offer a helping hand. Supporting that family with the costs of medical care was an obvious solution that would help both children get what they need and remove the stress of financial worry from the parents. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a massive amount of money – but it had an enormous impact on that family. Being able to share our resources and offer support to people in need is just one of the things that The Cridge Centre does with a great deal of joy and gratitude.

To support any of The Cridge Centre programs click here.

Christmas Generosity

By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development

Imagine leaving your war-torn country, your extended family, your home and job – leaving it all to hope for a better life here in Canada. Imagine travelling all that way with two small children, unsure what you were travelling towards, but hoping for safety and security. Imagine struggling to learn a new language and culture, all while looking for housing, schools, and a place to belong. Imagine that a year or so later, just when life starts to feel almost normal again, you start to notice angry looks from your neighbours and a sense of animosity from your landlord. He says that your children are too noisy and that you need to look for a new place to live, in a city where there are few affordable units for a family of 5. Imagine the fear and stress – not knowing if you and your family will be homeless and insecure again.

This is a story that we have heard on more than one occasion – families facing immense stress as they try to rebuild their lives in Victoria. We see fear, isolation and hopelessness in their faces as they struggle to overcome all the barriers that are facing them. One of our families came to us with this need in November. They were desperate and afraid, not sure who to turn to for help. As we worked through the issues with them, we realized that in the midst of the stress of dealing with housing, they were not going to be able to provide a Christmas for their children.

Enter in an incredibly generous family, committed to making Christmas special for one of our families.  This family had decided to forgo giving gifts to each other, and instead provide gifts for a family in need. And provide they did! In an incredible outpouring of generosity, they bought gifts for the children and parents, gift cards for stores and services – even a gift card for a local restaurant so that mom and dad could have a date night. They came with boxes of treats and wrapping paper and bows – everything packed with love and care and words of support.

We were honoured to receive this bounty from the donor and then to pass it on to the family. It was an experience of pure joy for us to see the generosity of the donor and the immense gratitude of the family. There were tears, wonder and humble gratefulness from everyone concerned. And that is what Christmas is all about.

 

To become a donor click here.

Why I am a Respite Care Provider

By Susie Scott, Child and Youth Support Worker

Because of THOSE times. Those times when you can see, hear and feel just how much the care providers need a break; so that they can be their best as care providers.

Those times when I know, he is getting a much-needed break at the same time.

Those times when I know, I am helping to relieve stress and provide care. But — it is the relationships I have built that matter the most. What started as a respite position for me has evolved into a deep-rooted friendship.

 

I have been a respite care provider for the same family for the past five years. His foster family is able to go on much-needed breaks and vacations, knowing that a capable and caring worker is there in their place. He can get the time-outs he needs: go to the beach, look at spiders, play video games, or go on bike rides (even for Ride for Refuge)! After all these years, it is still a rewarding part of my life.

I look forward to our times together. I am happy to see him grow and mature. I am happy to see the family unit have the space needed to be cheerful and stress-free.

I am happy to call him family. I am happy to help.

To learn more about the Cridge Respite Services.

No Wrong Door Story: Safety and Mathematics

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Centre Transition House for Women

Police gave Cindy the number for Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW) after they arrested her boyfriend for assaulting her and threatening to kill her. She came to CTHW traumatized and terrified about what her future would be.

How would she stay safe when he was released? How would she manage to support herself working a minimum wage job? Who could she turn to when all her family and friends lived far away?

CTHW staff helped her figure out a safety plan and how to take back control of her life.  Cindy found a new apartment that she could afford with the help of the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) funds that CTHW has to distribute.  She was inspired by another resident staying at the transition house to go back to school so she could get a better paying job.

Cindy left CTHW determined, focused and with a plan.  Beata, CTHW Outreach Worker, stayed in touch with her for ongoing support and to keep her connected to the Homelessness Prevention Program.

Cindy enrolled in a trades program.  It was a big leap of faith for her, and she was really nervous about passing her first math course.  Beata has taken on many “other duties as may be required” in her job as an Outreach Worker. This time it included being a math tutor!  It just so happens that Beata was a mathematician in her first career. Cindy aced her course!

Not only did Cindy pass at the top of her class, but she also found confidence in herself that had been buried for a long time.  She and Beata are still connected, but Cindy is feeling confident enough to forge ahead without further tutoring right now.

Cindy is safe and working towards a secure future.  We are so blessed to have been a part of this remarkable woman’s journey.

To learn more about the Cridge Transition House for Women.