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.

Getting Through The Holiday Season: Strategies For The Bereaved

During the holidays, it seems that the whole world is caught up with parties and fun. At this time of year, those who grieve may only be aware of the terrible hole in their hearts and their lives.

Here are some suggestions to help make this holiday season easier to handle. Remember that grieving takes energy, so be realistic with your expectations and allow yourself to choose those activities that are most meaningful to you.

PLAN:  Acknowledge that this holiday will be different. Planning is better than a “wait and see” approach.

  • Decide what you can or wish to handle and let family and friends know
  • Prepare responses to questions about how you are doing and how to answer greetings
  • Decide what traditions will stay the same and what will change
  • Consider spending the holiday in a different location
  • Take time for your own self-care and take time to grieve
  • Give yourself permission to cut back on holiday decorations, preparations and gift-giving

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Spend time with people whose company you enjoy, leave an event early, bow out if you need to
  • Make a list of things you would appreciate help with, and use it when family and friends ask if you would like some help
  • Make a shopping list ahead of time so that you can shop on a “good day.”
  • Attend a candlelight memorial service
  • Buy a special decoration for the tree in memory of your loved one
  • Hang a stocking for your loved one and have family and friends fill it with special memories
  • Attend a religious service at a different place or time
  • Place a decoration at the gravesite, or decorate a memorial tree
  • Consider having dinner at an alternative location or time
  • Light a special candle for the table centrepiece in memory of your loved one
  • Propose a toast to the memory of your loved one, and invite sharing of memories
  • Give a gift in memory of your loved one.

How to Give In December And Make Yourself Happy In April

In the midst of this joyous season, let me do you a favour and bring some reality to you. Are you ready?? Brace yourself! TAX SEASON IS COMING! ACK! No one wants to think about income taxes in December! It is such a grinchy thing to do – and yet if you think about it now, your tax return might not be that painful!

If you want to pay less in taxes (and who doesn’t?!?), there is one excellent way to do that. Donate. Find a charity that you love (pick us! Pick us!) and write them a cheque or donate online. It is that simple. Making a donation will give you tax credits that will make you happy in April. The more significant the contribution, the happier you will be! So while you are working hard on buying gifts that will make everyone else happy, do yourself a favour and give a gift that will make you happy! You won’t regret it! And neither will the charity who receives your gift!

Let me make it easy for you! Click here to donate today!

Pro Tip: If you donate online, you will get your receipt by email, which means you can pop it in your TAX file now rather than wait for it to come in the mail!

Victoria’s Housing Crisis: One Woman’s Story

Hopefully, you had a chance to hear the excellent interview on CBC with Candace Stretch on Friday, November 15. Candace spoke eloquently and poignantly about how the current housing crisis in Victoria is impacting women leaving abusive partners.

Following up on Candace’s interview, here is a story about how the housing crisis impacts the women at The Cridge Transition House.

Leslie arrived at The Cridge Transition House on January 13th. Police referred her when they arrested her partner for assaulting her. She arrived with her two children and 3 suitcases. Her 30-day stay was consumed with working with the justice system, applying for income assistance, trying to comfort her children, and looking for a new home to launch a life without violence for her and her children. All these were daunting tasks but the housing search was by far the most arduous.

Leslie was very optimistic when she started her housing search. Her combined income assistance and child tax benefits would give her a monthly income of $2,500. She started looking at 3-bedroom apartments. She quickly realized that 3 bedroom apartments are scarce and expensive – rents started at $2,400 per month. That would leave her only $100 for food, hydro, bus fare, and all the other essentials. Two-bedroom apartments ranged from $1800 to $2000 – that would be tight but doable. But demand is high and Leslie found herself being rejected in favour of couples and families with higher incomes or better references. Landlords wouldn’t even consider renting a one-bedroom or bachelor suite to a family of 3 no matter how willing Leslie was to fit her family into a small unit.

Leslie’s optimism started giving way to despair.

She applied for subsidized housing and second stage housing only to find out that the waitlists were so long there was no way to know when or if anything would ever come available.

As her 30-day stay in the emergency transition house shelter was rapidly coming to an end, the harsh reality of the housing crisis in Victoria loomed large for Leslie. It was no comfort to hear that the near impossibility of securing safe, affordable housing is the experience of so many women trying to escape the violence in their lives. The Cridge Transition House staff would not put Leslie and her children out on the street. But not being able to move women along into safe housing, means the waitlist just gets longer for women needing to come into the transition house.

Safety, urgency, affordability all highlight the need for quick action for more housing that women on very limited incomes can realistically afford.

The lives of hundreds of women and children are depending on it.

First Christmas in Canada

Would you agree that Christmas is a favourite holiday? We start planning in July, decorating in November, sending invitations and buying gifts right after Thanksgiving. So much joy! 

We don’t always remember that for some people Christmas might be a different experience. Have you ever asked yourself how new immigrants and refugees feel at their first Christmas in Canada?

What is it like to move to a new country for a mom with five children, only to find herself isolated, lonely and dependant on an abusive husband? This was the story of one of our women who felt overwhelmed and hopeless. She had just ended a long relationship with her abusive husband, had no job and felt so vulnerable. And the Christmas season just added to the pressure. Her children, inspired by beautifully decorated malls and streets, assumed that Christmas was magic and were waiting for all their dreams to come true, now that they were in Canada. Her children wanted a room full of presents – toys, clothes, and decorations — everything they lost or never had back home that was burned down by war. 

A mother, pressured and overwhelmed, asked her Cridge support worker what should she do? She felt guilty for depriving her children of the joy of Christmas. So she wish-listed every single item of the list her children wrote to Santa (and it was a long list!). How surprised and relieved she felt when every single item from that list was purchased by generous donors from The Cridge Hamper Donor program and her children had their room full of gifts and a real Canadian Christmas!

 

This Christmas season, remember those who are less fortunate than you and share your Christmas joy by making a difference in someone else’s life. If you want to become a secret Santa for our families, email hampers@cridge.org for more information.

By sharing your love, you help children and adults and give them a little (or big) Christmas miracle.

 

This story was shared with us by a manager of The Cridge Supportive Housing. Some details of this story were altered to protect the identity of the family. 

Why Give This #GivingTuesday?

After the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is a great time to remember those who are vulnerable and in need of our help. #GivingTuesday was created when two organizations came together in 2012 to set aside a day that was all about celebrating the generosity of giving.

This #GivingTuesday, we want to raise awareness of a problem that goes unnoticed and that some of our low-income families are facing monthly. When a family is big and resources are scarce, the grocery budget is most likely to be reduced. According to The Mustard Seed’s Spring 2018 report, 27% of all individuals accessing food bank services are youth and children. Food banks, like the Mustard Seed Street Church, provide much-needed help but sometimes it is not enough. School breakfast programs, like the one at our Childcare program, provide additional support. It helps families to stretch their budget and to ensure their children do not skip the most important meal of the day. Access to affordable and nutritious meals is essential for active and healthy lives. Access to affordable and regular meals helps with better grades, better mental health and overall well-being.

This Giving Tuesday we ask you to support our families with an unexpected gift. Donate a grocery card to a vulnerable family in need. Help us to stop the cycle of hunger!

To donate use cridge.org/donate/grow145 or add “Giving Tuesday campaign” in the comments section of the donation page. With your help, we can make this season merrier!

Why Do We Need to Remember This Remembrance Day?

This November, like every year, I see people wearing a red poppy on the streets of Victoria: old and young. A stranger asked me one day – is it your city’s symbol, the red flower everyone wears around? I felt sad. Perhaps, we don’t remember anymore – we don’t recognize symbols.

Symbols are different. In Canada, we wear a red poppy; in Post-Soviet republics – they wear a Ribbon of St. George – a symbol of Victory in the Second World War. But no matter the symbol we carry, we must remember the soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives for peace and the freedom of future generations.

At The Cridge Centre, we have a story that we hold especially close to our hearts. The story is about a nameless man in World War 1 and his sacrifice for the sake of a peaceful future. You have probably seen old photos where men were sitting in trenches in the rain and snow, waiting for the attack to come. One man who was waiting to get up and run held his bayonet and prayed. He suspected he wouldn’t survive the attack – so he wrote his last will on a piece of paper and stuck it in his helmet.

He was found dead on the battlefield shortly after. This man named wrote that The BC Protestant Orphans’ Home was his home and the only family he had and left all of his savings to support other orphans. He remained unnamed in history but is still remembered and honoured along with the other young men who served and were lost.

Let’s promise ourselves to remember those who gave the most valuable gift of all – the chance to live. Let’s promise to remember – but not only one day of the year. Let’s remember when having a cozy meal with friends and family; when going for a walk along the ocean on a warm sunny day; when seeing the first blossoms of the spring. Let’s remember and let’s be grateful! Lest we forget!

By Marina B.

Do We Remember?

At this time of the year, we often use the phrase ‘lest we forget’ – but perhaps we should ask ‘do we remember’? It may well be that this change of emphasis is not precisely relevant to our thinking. And yet, might it not raise the profile of our private journeys of Remembrance?

Do we remember those countless thousands, seemingly invisible civilians who were lost in appalling air-raids, those homeless multitudes wandering the devastated countries of our destruction, the patient quiet of all these who, at the very least, supported, even encouraged, our Services in the conflicts of the last century?
And just who are ‘they’? They are the Civilians whose unremitting, often invisible, service gave very many of us the privilege of today’s Remembrance. Their generosity, hope and confidence in the cause as each deemed it to be.
May we keep faith with respect and service in our remembering.
Let us love one another!

By: A senior citizen who served her country

A Good Life after Brain Injury at Mary Cridge Manor

By Greg Goldberg

After I sustained a traumatic head injury, I wanted to do something important to give back to other head injury survivors. Throughout the years, The Cridge Centre for the Family Brain Injury Services has given back to several brain injury survivors and communities by paying it forward with creating The Bluesheet Clubhouse, a support group for head injury survivors in Victoria, BC.

With their help, The Bluesheet Clubhouse is a support group we started eight years ago to provide education, social and physical needs to head injury survivors at Mary Cridge Manor. This support group does a wide variety of activities on a weekly basis from physical outings, social events, book clubs and puzzle creations. There is still much more that can and will be done, but here is what we have been up to recently.

As brain injury and stroke survivors we are always busy creating, developing and working with our projects to better others and ourselves.

Our latest project produced by The Bluesheet Synapse Gang is a new podcast called ‘Time to Talk Traumatic Brain Injury.’ focusing on living a productive and quality life after sustaining a head injury or stroke. The objective of this podcast is to provide other survivors with the opportunity to listen and learn from individuals who are travelling or have travelled the road of recovery post injury.

The brain injury survivors producing this podcast are having fun, socializing, improving their language, technical, communication and cognitive skills and giving back to the community. These survivors are on the air, while on their own flight path to recovery. Our motto for the Bluesheet Clubhouse is “Working with and Giving back to others”.

Some of our recent projects that were of great success included one this summer called ‘The Bump Cap Campaign’ Here we donated to golfers and maintenance staff at several golf courses Victoria (Mount Doug, Henderson, Prospect Lake, Cedar Hill and Uplands) 5 Bump Caps each to use for the safety of staff and guests to try. This bump cap uses a lightweight, protective shell that makes the stylish cap comfortable to use but also hard enough to protect their head is right on par with local golfers and maintenance crew safety needs. Bump caps for our campaign were donated by Acklands Grainger Safety Supplies right here in Victoria.

Once a month the members of the Bluesheet Clubhouse, are still producing challenging and fun jumble puzzles that the entire community of Victoria enjoys. These word jumbles are published in our local Mind X Magazine. It is available on newsstands across the city. A variety of our self-created word jumbles are used for every issue.

For us, making these word jumbles are a great way to improve our cognitive functioning after a brain injury and also help develop new and fun relationships with other Mary Cridge Manor residents.

Speaking of Jumbles, once a week, our Bluesheet team visits The English Learning Centre on The University of Victoria Campus to facilitate ‘Giant Word Winder’. This is a huge board game given to us by David L Hoyt (the most published puzzle make in North America) after he was informed and saw many of the jumbles that our head injury survivors were producing, publishing and using for their language and cognitive development.

International students from around the world are now enjoying learning the English language using this interactive game with other English language learners and our club’s head injury survivors. Our members of the Blue Sheet Club facilitate this game with a vast amount of players from around the world. Everyone is enjoying themselves socializing and learning all about new cultures from others happy to share.

As well as all of these activities, there is always fun and learning to have at our weekly Clubhouse gathering. Socializing while sharing snacks and stories over the hour always fills the room with laughter and smiles.

We are happy to take advantage of events happening around our community. This year’s clubhouse is filled with sports fans and we continue to go to many sports events across the city. The Victoria Royals, UVIC Basketball teams and The Victoria Shamrocks have given us complimentary tickets for the gang to go and check out lots of the live action. For the survivors to have the opportunity to go and see these games live is a real treat.

The Clubhouse makes its own fun as well. Monday Movie Nights, Karaoke contests, photography outings, theatre visits, crab fishing trips and gatherings just to be together made for a special place for survivors to participate, socialize, learn, smile and have fun living a productive and healthy life once again.

 

To learn more about The Cridge Brain Injury Program click here.

 

When Compassion Meets Innovation: A Cridge Respite & Respitality Story

By Candace Stretch, Manager of The Cridge Supportive Housing & Family Services

The Cridge Respite & Respitality Services are all about caring for the caregiver. These two companion programs help stressed-out, worn-out parents, who are raising children with special needs or a mental health diagnosis, take a meaningful break. For the past several years, two amazing women- Mimi Davis & Gyneth Turner- have worked together to provide Respite & Respitality Services to families with a wonderful blend of compassion and innovation.

Twenty years ago, Mimi’s heart of compassion for caregivers led her to create The Cridge Respitality Program. She reached out to local business owners and shared stories of burnt-out caregivers in our community with them. Moved by Mimi’s deep care for parents, hotel after hotel, restaurant after restaurant, and business after business donated their services to families. Through her love, empathy and support, Mimi left an indelible impression on the parents she served, and on the Respite and Respitality Services that she believed in so deeply.

Seven years ago, the Respite & Respitality services encountered a beam of light and energy in the form of Gyneth Turner! Gyneth’s experience in the hospitality industry and her passion for using technology to help families were invaluable. She brought new ideas about how we could maximize our resources. Through this innovation, Respite & Respitality Services were able to expand to serve double the number of parents!

The unique combination of compassion and innovation that we found in these wonderful staff members has transformed Respite & Respitality. Mimi entered her well-deserved retirement in December, and Gyneth will embark on a new career path in October. We wish them each the very, very best. We have been so blessed to have this Dream Team serving our families, and we value the legacy of compassion and innovation that will continue to shape these vital programs!

Learn more about The Cridge Respite and Respitality Services here.

Rock Hunting Adventures 2019

By Angela Brunwald, The Cridge Childcare Services

Do you know the best way to spend summer? The Cridge Childcare children have been participating in the Sooke to Sidney Rock Hunt (SS Rock Hunt for short) all summer using The SS Rock Hunt Facebook page. Rock Hunt means finding and painting rocks with acrylic paint. After rocks are painted and dry, we take them with us when we go on field trips. Our children hide the rocks in the community for everyone else to find. One 5-year-old told me that “when people find our rocks it makes them very happy!”

We love making people around us happy. Let me share with you some of the stories:

In July, we hid 6 rocks around the grounds at Fort Rodd Hill.  The same day, we asked our followers of Facebook to find them. We received: “My granddaughter was at Fort Rodd Hill the other day and found her very first rock at the lighthouse!!  She was thrilled to bits!!  She brought it home and wants to keep it – I hope the artist doesn’t mind?”

At Island View Beach Hi-5’s hid 6 rocks along the beach. They watched as one adult and three children found a few of our hidden rocks. Our children were excited watching them! “I guess we just made their day”, one of Hi-5’s said.

In August, we hid a few rocks at Beckwith Water Park. Later, the same evening on the SS Rock Hunt website I found a photo of a little boy holding one of our rocks. The note said that he found the rock (all by himself!) at Beckwith. His mom shared that the little guy’s name is James and he’s almost 3. He’s actually been carrying it around the house all morning so the joy continues.

Hi-5’s have found a few rocks themselves at different locations. They were VERY VERY excited when they discovered rocks hidden all around The Cridge Childcare building! A BIG thanks to whoever hid the rocks for Hi-5’s to find!

What a great way to get the children looking & hunting for exciting things in our community… Do you want to join us in Rock Hunting? Share this story and go for a hunt! We would love to see and hear about your rock hunt adventures!
Happy Painting & Hunting!

Angela 🙂