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.

How To Make An Impact In Your Community. Cridge Edition

This spring, many of us felt disconnected from people we love and care for while trying to cope with the pandemic. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all the essential workers, we are now able to return to our workplaces and reconnect with families and friends carefully and cautiously. COVID-19 left us with a changed sense of our world. We went from COVID-baking to new ways of budgeting to fighting for social justice. Today, like never before, we feel the urge to make our world a better place! Here are seven ways you can make a difference in your community.

  1. Support small local businesses, including Black, Indigenous, and immigrant-owned businesses. It will have a significant impact on owners as well as strengthening the community.
  2. Do a beach clean up with family or friends. Visit vancouverisland.surfrider.org/beach-cleanups for more information. Let’s keep our home clean! 
  3. Volunteer. While many non-profit organizations are closed for volunteer opportunities, a new type of digital volunteering is gaining popularity. For more information visit volunteervictoria.bc.ca
  4. Be kind to your neighbours. Check on your neighbours and see if there is anything you can do for them, especially if they are elderly. Sometimes a few minutes of your time will be enough to make someone’s day!
  5. Support a great cause. Ride for Refuge is coming – this year, you can ride freestyle, walk, cycle or choose something completely unique. For more information, ways to participate and to register, visit rideforrefuge.org
  6. Donate your time or your goods – food banks, clothing donations, hygiene supplies for homeless shelters – everything counts! It is a great time to assess your belongings and see if there is anything worth donating. Charities like WIN (Women In Need) Society and Victoria Pregnancy Centre are accepting donations by appointment. There is always a need for menstrual products and personal hygiene products throughout the year!
  7. Educate yourself on social issues like systemic racism, Indigenous rights, gender-based violence, and environmental issues, to name a few. By educating yourself, you can become a great advocate for people in our community and help to create a safe and inclusive space for everyone!

Thanks to Lesly Derksen on Unsplash for this beautiful picture of the Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The Cridge faces. Tori

Today we want to highlight the work of one particular member of The Cridge family – Tori is the  Community Program Coordinator for Community/Outreach and Mary Cridge Manor programs and services with The Cridge Brain Injury program. She joined The Cridge Brain Injury Services team in June 2007 as a brain injury support worker. She shared that her first experience was working with stroke survivors. It was a great and humbling experience for her to see the challenges they and their families needed to overcome in the process of rehabilitation.

Victoria grew up in Langford and moved across the country to attend Carleton University in Ottawa. Her area of interest was in combination criminology, psychology, sociology and law.  Tori’s first experience after returning to Victoria was working in the Youth Division at the  Military Family Resource Center, where she was running loss and grief workshops and programming for youth 6-19 years old. It was there that she met Janelle Breese Biagioni who later introduced her to the work of The Cridge Centre.

 

Tori’s favourite part of working with clients is that they get to celebrate small steps. “The rehabilitation takes time, sometimes years and years to restore lost functions,” shared Tori, “that is why it is so important to celebrate small victories. It is not about the finish line, it is about the journey.” Tori also loves the creativity of problem-solving. “There is always a solution, sometimes it just takes some time to find the right approach that works for a particular client. And The Cridge Centre’s mandate makes it easier to concentrate on the client’s needs and make decisions according to the best of the client’s interest.”

“What makes it hard is to realize the problem is systemic,” continued Tori. “We went a long way but there is so much more that needs to be done in advocacy for brain injury survivors, policy development, and service delivery. It is inspiring and humbling to advocate and work alongside brain injury survivors, accompany and help them on their journey of recovery.”

When we asked Victoria, what would be the main message she would like to share with us and our audience, she smiled “we all need to be kinder in our lives to ourselves and those that surround us.” It is easy to dismiss a person on the street and make a judgement about their problems. “So many brain injury survivors face difficulties communicating with people in their everyday life: in the bank, grocery store, on a street.” It is problematic for many of the brain injury survivors to clearly express themselves, stay calm or reach out to ask for help. It is so important for us to be compassionate when communicating with the people surrounding us. “Take a moment to listen, be patient. It can mean so much. Take a moment to reach out – it might change someone’s life. And if you don’t know the answer – ask. Help us to spread awareness and help build a stronger community!”

To learn more about The Cridge Brain Injury Services, visit the program’s page.

COVID-19 Story

Over a period of the past weeks, we collected stories about our families during the lockdown, their struggles and successes. Here is one of the stories.

The young parents that access The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP) are overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted. Typically, they have little or no supportive family and are isolated and marginalized. A visit from the Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker can make a huge difference. This is especially true during this current COVID pandemic when these young parents are even more isolated. The current need to socially isolate means that the Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker has needed to come up with creative ways to stay connected to the young parents in her program. One way has been to put together small food hampers to deliver to their doors on a weekly basis.  This means that single moms do not have to figure out how to get groceries and keep their small children at home to minimize their exposure. We have realized that these visits can mean so much more than this very important practical help. After a grocery hamper drop and a bit of a chat from outside the front door, a young mom sent The Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker a text saying how desperate she had been feeling before the visit. She had been feeling in a very dark place that was getting darker. The Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker’s visit saved her from spiralling down further and gave her the lift she needed to carry on. We are grateful to have the extra funds to make up grocery hampers to deliver to all of our young parents. These bags of groceries are lifelines during these lonely, overwhelming times.

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

Make Mom Proud

Remember that comforting feeling of a hand stroking your hair and a voice telling you that everything is going to be alright? So many of us had a special woman in our life that was a role model, our best supporter, and our passionate advocate. Some of us called her mom, nanna, baba, geema, or maybe auntie. She demonstrated strength of spirit even when it was easier to falter and give up.

Now, with Mother’s Day almost upon us, it is time to think of a special gift that tells her how much she means to us. You can never go wrong with flowers or chocolate, but there is another wonderful option available! 

Just as your mom cared for you, you can pay that forward by supporting a family in need. So many of our young families are food insecure, often struggling to feed their children. The gift of a grocery card gives so much more than food — it also provides hope and peace of mind during a stressful time. You can give that gift today. Your mom will be proud of you!

To give a gift in honour of your mom, visit this page.

The Cridge faces. Tanya

During the lockdown, we would like to acknowledge the work of some of our fantastic staff members who continue to serve our clients during the pandemic. 

Today we want to highlight the work of one particular member of The Cridge family: Tanya is one of the hardworking staff members of our childcare team.

Tanya joined our team nine years ago after moving to Victoria. She worked as a Nature Preschool teacher, which means helping children to learn more about themselves, how to problem-solve, building their confidence and preparing them for school, all while in nature. We asked Tanya what the most rewarding experience as a preschool teacher was. “I love watching children reaching out to their milestones, celebrate them in their successes and helping them overcome their challenges,” she shared with us.

Recently, Tanya transitioned into an administrative position where she works to support our childcare management to take care of the vital work that usually stays behind the scenes. Tanya also provides support to our Dovetail program. She shared that she loves the new life and work balance she achieved by working in an administrative position. It allows her to spend more time with her husband and two children.

We asked her what she loves most about The Cridge Centre. “It was the perfect fit and love from the first sight,” she shared.  The combination of a faith-based workplace, a great team to work with and all the goodness which The Cridge Centre brings into our community was exactly what she was looking for.

We are grateful and proud to have Tanya as a part of our team, providing services to our families and essential workers during the pandemic!

Our Seniors

I am always amused in our interview process when I ask what a potential employee appreciates most about Seniors and they answer “I love how they are all so sweet!”

Now that’s just not true! Our seniors come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments, just like we do. Some are lovely and sweet, some are curmudgeonly, some are funny as all get out, some are wise and generous with their stories and life experiences, and some keep themselves close to the vest. That’s what makes a community – all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds, coming together to form a brand new community.

As both residents and staff come and go, the community shifts and different talents, interests and personalities come to the forefront, but the thread of “home” stays the same.

Our goal is to make every resident feel accepted, warmly welcomed and valued, just for being who they are.

Some of them come from situations that were not safe, or where they were isolated. Some come from wonderful places because they just need a bit more care. Some come because “I don’t want to ever cook again”.  But whatever the reason, they are welcomed and hopefully, if we do our job right, this becomes home.

By Sarah Smith, Manager of The Cridge Seniors’ Services

The Cridge faces. Nick.

Today we want to share a story with you. During the lockdown, we would like to acknowledge the work of some of our amazing staff members who continue to serve our clients during the pandemic. 

Nick is our Brain Injury Services Direct Care Coordinator – and he makes sure that every client in his care feels safe and respected.

Nick came to The Cridge Brain Injury Services as a nursing student in 2013. He shared that his first experience was to witness a fight between two residents. It was a realistic glance at the everyday tasks, responsibilities and challenges at MacDonald House, The Cridge Centre for the Family’s residential program for Brain Injury survivors. It was an intimidating start to his work!

As he returned to Mac House over and over again, he could not help but fall in love with the residents. Under the guidance of The Cridge Brain Injury Manager, Geoff, Nick learned the intricacies of working with people who suffered from brain injury.

“No brain injury is the same,” shares Nick, “which means every new client requires a unique approach to their needs and difficulties. That makes my job even more interesting and challenging. That’s why I love my job!”

Nick believes that compassion and empathy are the most essential tools when working with brain injury clients. It is all about whatever it takes to preserve the dignity of the person.

The biggest challenge Nick faces working with people who have experienced brain injury is the fact that in order to provide safety it is necessary to limit clients’ independence and place boundaries on decision making. 

Here is an example. For someone who is disoriented and confused or suffering from memory loss, the last thing to do is to allow them to go for a walk with no supervision. It is so easy to get lost! But the limitations to their independence and decision making will frustrate Mac House clients, explained Nick. Good communication is the best tactic, he shared with us. And patience.

Nick believes that it is all about the balance between providing safety and taking things slow. He likes to remind clients that it takes time to rebuild their lives back to a new normal. If there is a will, there is the way.

We are grateful to every member of our Cridge family that is on the frontlines and taking care of our clients, making sure that their needs are met.

Second Chances

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 

Just Ask!

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 – Keeping It Real!

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.