POSTPONED – Four Great Voices – One Great Night!

The planning team for this event has made the difficult decision to postpone it until further notice. If you purchased tickets, please contact Shannon Whissell at (250) 995-6419 or by email at swhissell (at) cridge (dot) org

Victoria is blessed with a bevy of talented women, and few are more talented than the foursome of Maria Manna, Miranda Sage, Maureen Washington and Melinda Whitaker. These great ladies of jazz are all accomplished songstresses and recording artists in their own right and combined they create a night to remember.

The Cridge Centre for the Family is blessed to have them joining forces to raise the roof of Alix Goolden Hall– and support for The Cridge Respitality Service – on Friday, March 30, 2012. All proceeds from this high-class concert will support the families of The Cridge Respitality Service, now in its eleventh year of service to the community!

A very special guest for the evening will be Sky Mundell, the 2011 winner of Vancouver Island’s Got Talent, whose family benefitted from The Cridge Respitality Service. Sky was born with cerebral palsy, but despite being blind and hearing impaired, has become a champion jazz pianist. We’re honoured and excited that he’ll be part of the concert.

The Cridge Respitality Service makes a real difference for families. As one grateful mom recently wrote after experiencing a Respitality night,

“Checking in was like walking into a dream. Everything was beautiful, quiet and calm. For 24 hours, time stopped. We actually relaxed (and slept) for the first time in months. It was a magical interlude. Now our batteries are recharged enough to face the next set of 'adventures'.”

The divas in their gowns and gentleman musicians in their tuxes promise to make One Great Night a concert to remember, as they showcase some of the greatest ballads and standards of the last century. Jazz lovers and community supporters alike are promised a great night out!

This fun evening of music and celebration is a great value, as adult tickets are only $20 and tickets for seniors (65+) and youth (18 or younger) are just $15.

2nd annual look good : do good cut-a-thon

The second annual look good : do good cut-a-thon sponsored by headstart hair design will take place Sunday, March 4, 2012 from noon until 4 pm. 

This great event is sponsored by salon owners Chris & Garry Preston. Salon manager Megan, along with 8 other professional stylists, will provide great basic cuts for a minimum suggested donation of $15. With refreshments, door prizes, and an information table about The Cridge Respitality Service, the event is a fun, family-friendly time. 

Last year over $1,500 was raised at the event, and with more stylists this year promises to be an even bigger contribution to the families who rely on The Cridge Respitality Service. 


  • Sunday, March 4, 2012
  • Noon – 4:00 pm
  • headstart hair design – 1315 cook street
  • haircuts by donation (suggested minimum $15)

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Brain Injury Series on CBC One

This week, All Points West on CBC Radio One in Victoria is featuring a series of conversations about brain injury. Interviewees include survivors of brain injury, doctors, family members, and professionals working in the field.

Janelle Breese Biagioni, community services coordinator for The Cridge Brain Injury Services, shares her experience of the impact brain injury has on families. Later in the week, Geoff Sing, manager of The Cridge Brain Injury Services will speak on the broader impact on society of brain injuries, and services and support for survivors.

You can listen to  the CBC One podcasts on the All Points West website. Each day's converstations are linked below.

  • Tuesday, January 10 – Conversation with a brain injury survivor (Starts at 6:55 of podcast)
  • Wednesday, January 11 – Dr. Paul Winston from the Neurorehab Clinic at Victoria General Hospital (Starts at beginning of podcast)
  • Thursday, January 12 – Janelle Breese Biagioni, community services coordinator for The Cridge Brain Injury Serivces, speaks about the impact of brain injury on families (Starts at 10:37 of podcast)
  • Friday, January 13 – Geoff Sing, Manager of The Cridge Brain Injury Services, speaks to Jo-Ann Roberts about the link between brain injury and homelessness, and supports in the community to break that link (Starts at 9:34 of the podcast)

How has brain injury impacted your life? 

A Christmas Message of Peace


This devotional opened our December management team meeting, and I thought it would make a great Christmas message for all of you. As we near the 'big' day, let's remember the true message of Christmas comes in a whisper. By the way, the original for this devotional was found at The Electronic Hymnal and appears here slightly modified from the original. 
A Christmas Devotional – Silent Night

It happens every Christmas. Hustling, bustling, shopping, traveling, cooking. Parties, banquets, Santa Claus, pageants, decorations, trees, lights, clothes. We get caught up in the season of Christmas, stressed about making arrangements to see and please everyone, pressured to balance an already busy schedule with unlimited amounts of additional activities, pushed to attend, give, join, gather and perform.
But it happens every Christmas. We are busily tending to our own flock, when out nowhere, the calm and peace and tranquility of Christmas comes. We are never prepared for it. We are always stunned. And amazed. And we experience the awe of the nativity, an event we never witnessed, but of which we somehow have mysterious first-hand knowledge. The Grinch did. Scrooge did. The shepherds did. Each year it happens to us as well.
Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin
mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace.
It happens every Christmas, and it is frequently this hymn that catches us off guard – though it may be another one, Let There Be Peace On Earth, for example. We vividly see and experience the serene relief of a world with a newly-born savior.
Then we are transported to the nearby hillside, where shepherds busily tended their sheep, completely unaware that they had been chosen to receive the best news ever heard. We join them, trembling, no quaking, with fear. And above them, the sky is laid open with what can only be described as glory.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born.
And this we can’t imagine or experience first-hand. Neither Bach nor Mozart ever composed music that remotely compared to the songs the angels sang that night. The total, absolute majesty that only heaven could produce, suitable for the greatest tidings from a glorious God to his lonely creation. We know it is unfathomable, and reserved only for the time when we enter his glory.
But we can see the glory in our Lord and Savior. He is our window, our path to our heavenly home. Even as a baby…
Son of God, love's pure light;
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Every year we experience it – in a baby’s peaceful sleep. In the lull of Christmas Eve with the lights on and the family in bed. In the quiet moments sitting with a client. It may be fleeting, but we all experience. The true gift of Christmas – awe, wrapped in peace, and laying in a manger.

United Way Grants $55,000 for Three Years to Cridge Centre Programs


The Cridge Centre for the Family
Media Release, December 19, 2011
The United Way Supports The Cridge Centre Services for Families in Need
Just in time for Christmas, the United Way of Greater Victoria announced two significant grants that, for the next three years will provide expanded support and service for clients of both The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program and The Cridge Respitality Service.  
The promise of $35,000 per year for three years is transformative for The Cridge Respitality Service, which for the past ten years has relied on the generosity of private donors and the support of the hospitality sector and other business partners. The core of Respitality is complimentary hotel stays for parents who need a break to restore themselves from the ongoing stress of raising a child with special needs. These stays are donated by accommodation partners here in Victoria, as well as in Vancouver, Parksville and the Comox valley. However, for families who are not able to leave their children overnight, we can also arrange ‘dining with Respitality’ or theatre, sports events, or other evenings out. 
One of the most important aspects of our service though, is our coordinator’s commitment to listen to families and meet their needs whatever is going on – sometimes that may mean a package of cupcakes delivered to a burnt-out mom at the pediatric ward of the hospital, or an hour on the phone listening to their worries. The Cridge Respitality Service provides respite, advocacy and support services for more than 425 families of children with special needs. Stable funding means that staff will now be able to focus on expanding services to clients on the waiting list, and investigate related services to support the challenges faced by families with children with special needs. 
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP) is a youth-centred program supporting young moms (ages 16 to 24 years) to create stable, safe, healthy lives for themselves and their children.  It previously received innovation funding from The United Way of Greater Victoria which allowed the Young Parent Outreach Worker to support an extra 10 clients throughout 2011. That funding was set to expire December 31, 2011 and the timely announcement of $20,000 for three years means further expansion to the program. 
The Cridge YPOP provides responsive support that is entirely client directed and is not restricted to young parents from any one school, childcare centre or agency. This is a different model of service to young parents than is offered by the supported daycare model. The generous funding from the United Way of Greater Victoria will allow us to extend this support to more parents, making a significant difference in the lives of young parents and their children. The ever-growing demand for support for young parents will be alleviated to some extent through this grant.
The Cridge Centre for the Family is grateful for their cooperative partnership with The United Way of Greater Victoria as both organizations work to support families and individuals in need across the region. 


Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch

It's easy to forget sometimes, even as we work with clients who are moving from poverty and instability to independence who sometimes still need the support of our sister food ministries in the city, that hunger is a very real and present concern for many people in Victoria. The demand on the Mustard Seed Food Bank is up 10% this month, and other service providers are reporting a similar increased demand for meals and groceries. 

With this in mind, The Coalition to End Homelessness has created a list of available holiday meals over the Christmas month, as well as a list of places people in need can receive food (both groceries and meals) ongoingly. 

Please share these resources with people you know who may need the information. And please contact Shannon at (250) 995-6419 if you would like to hear more about how you can support Cridge clients in need of food, toiletries, and other necessities of life. 

A Blessed Respitality Morning

This morning we held the first annual 'Stuff the Stocking for Respitality' fundraiser, and what an event it was. When you schedule a community event from 7:30 – 10:30 in the morning, it's a bit of a question as to who will show up. And when it's a brand new, never tried before event, the question looms ever bigger as the opening moments approach. Once again, the community and our generous and faithful supporters came through.

Guests enjoyed the beautiful music performed by Pat Shumka, pianist from Cordova Bay United Church, and Elizabeth Skilling, a classicaly trained opera singer. These women gave so beautifully not just of their time but also of their talents, and it was appreciated over and over again. So many of our guests intended to donate & run, but lingered to enjoy the music. 

The delicious Christmas treats were a hit, of course – from a bagel with cream cheese to a decadent brownie, or perhaps just some fruit and yogourt donated by Country Grocer and accompanied by hot apple cider or fresh coffee donated by Caffe Fantastico. 

Two beautiful gift basket door prizes were also a hit, and we're certain that the winners will enjoy the many treats from Bungalow and Butchart Gardens especially in the coming weeks. 

But the real magic of the morning was in the joy of giving and sharing. There was amazing energy in the room as staff, clients, society and board members, volunteers and our invaluable community supporters all came together for one purpose – to make a difference for the 400+ families supported by The Cridge Respitality Service. 

At the end of the day, more than $7800.00 – that's enough to support 83 famlies in the program for one year – was given. What better way to celebrate the season than to make a difference for so many families.

Our special thanks to all of the event sponsors who made the event so successful

And thank you to representatives from the Chateau Victoria and the Harbour Towers, two of our invaluable accommodations partners whose support year round – as well as on this special occasion – makes such a difference.

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The Cridge Transition House for Women – 20 Years and Still Serving

If you believe in coincidence, this is a poignant one – tomorrow, December 6, is both the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Cridge Transition House for Women and the 22nd anniversary of the massacre of 14 young women at L'École Polytechnic in Montréal.

Since 1991, by act of Parliament, December 6 has been recognized in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. While it's an important and solemn day, for the staff and volunteers of The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW), every day is one of awareness and action. 

Anniversary Cake

On Friday, December 2 the CTHW hosted its annual Christmas party, which brings together current and past clients, community supporters, staff, and volunteers.This year the party was grander than ever, in keeping with the significant milestone of the 20th anniversary.

Amidst the joy, more than one former client was heard saying "thank you, you literally saved my life." Representatives from The Soroptimists Club and The Westshore Quilters Guild were on hand to see first-hand the difference their ongoing contributions to the clients make. Santa and her elves appeared, with toys for every child and treats for every woman there.

The sense of celebration was palpable, and yet underneath it all is a sobering awareness that The Cridge Transition House for Women continues to serve hundreds of women and children escaping domestic violence every year, and even more families are saved through the House's Outreach Service. Violence against women continues to be an issue in our society, 22 years after Marc Lepine, the lone gunman at L'École Polytechnic, was decried as an aberration. 

The Cridge Transition House provides an essential service to women and children in the Capital Region – and beyond, when required. Each December we celebrate those whose contributions help us continue to serve, and reflect on the women and children who continue to need the safety availalbe through our doors.

“Thank you for rides, smiles, pies, hugs, pillows, silences, dishes and affirmations!  
Thank you for being understanding, generous, kind and approachable.
Most of all thank you for letting me just talk and get things off my mind.
Signed, A Forever Grateful Former Resident”

Breaking Bread with COBS

'Breaking bread' is a phrase that conjures so many feelngs and images – it indicates fellowship, nourishment, and sharing. It's a comforting statement that goes beyond mere food to taking care of one another in community. 

Each week, Cobs Bread bakeries everywhere support up to seven local charities with the gift of fresh bread. At The Cridge Centre, that bread fills the pantry at The Cridge Transition House for Women, is delivered to The Cridge Dovetail outreach and The Cridge Brain Injury community support clients, feeds Supportive Transitional Housing families, is offered to needy senior and childcare clients, and is taken to Mary Cridge Manor for the brain injury and women's and family residents there.

The fresh, fragrant bread – including fluffy white bread, hearty whole wheat, and toothsome ryes, some in loafs, some in buns, and sometimes sweet treats – is not an afterthought or cast-off leftovers. Cobs' giving plan is an integral part of their corporate structure. They make this bread with giving in mind. 

For some of our clients, the ability to rely on a regular delivery of fresh, healthy bread provides immense relief to tight budgets. As food costs continue to soar, especially for staples such as bread, this donation plays an ever-more important role in keeping children fed. 

Thank you, Cobs Bread, for your commitment to the community and for your ongoing and faithful support. We look forward to that yummy Cobs smell for many days to come. 


“Bungalow” is another word for Home

This summer The Cridge Centre for the Family made a new friend – Bungalow, a charming home and gift store in Estevan Village in Oak Bay. Bungalow began donating some of their fine house wares, stationery, jewelry, and ornaments after Assistant Manager of Women’s & Family Services, Candace Stretch – who also happens to be a regular customer – shared some of the work her department does in supporting families. 

Bungalow's gifts bring joy, beauty and hope to our women and children at The Cridge Transition House for Women in welcome presents, birthday presents and Christmas surprises. The jewelry and scarves featured strongly in presents at the Mother's Day tea party for residents of The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing, and parents of children with special needs will find humour and encouragement in the replenished stores for Cridge Respitality baskets. 

As Candace Stretch, Assistant Manager of Women's and Family Services said to Michelle of Bungalow: 

Wow! What a wonderful couple of weeks it has been since we picked up the amazing donation from you. Just wanted to pass along an informal THANK YOU!!!

The beautiful things that you donated went in several directions…

  • The Respitality Service took items that will fit into the gift baskets which go out to families of children with special needs
  • The Transition House took the beautiful artwork, so that we can update and make the house more of a home
  • And the women of our Supportive Transitional Housing program were invited to come “shopping”… they had such a wonderful time selecting lovely things for their homes. One woman had tears in her eyes as she said “All these beautiful things for our homes that we could never afford ourselves”

Michelle and Graham have given several times, and the ongoing difference they make for our women and families is immeasurable. If you happen be Bungalow this Christmas season while doing your shopping, please pass on our gratitude to Michelle and Graham, and let them know what a business that cares for the community means to you. 







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