Strength comes in all shapes and sizes. In this case, a petite, shy and soft spoken Mother of four named Beth. Growing up in Grimsby, Beth, a Personal Support Worker, always dreamed of one day becoming a nurse. But, sometimes life gets in the way; and Beth found herself stuck in an abusive relationship with four children, and a pile of student debt to top it off. Inner strength helped her to leave; but finding – and keeping – housing for a family of five in Grimsby is not easy. Grimsby has the highest costs of living in the Niagara Region, and soon enough, Beth $1400 rent cheques were falling further and further behind. She found herself faced with yet another hurdle to climb: eviction.
Now unemployed – unable to find work because daycare options were at odds with her PSW working hours – coupled with a diabetes diagnosis and a sick daughter, Beth had 60 days to find a home she could afford. Moving into a shelter would mean taking her children away from their schools, and as a single mother, her only support systems – including her own mother – were in all Grimsby. Thankfully, Beth’s Mother discovered WNAH YWCA’s Off Site Transitional Housing program, where Beth was introduced to Cheryl, her support worker. Cheryl was always there to listen and offer gentle support.
Finally with an affordable place to call home and Cheryl’s support, Beth was able to start to take control of her life. She signed up for not one, but three budgeting workshops to work on her student debt. Another to teach her to make weekly meal plans. For the kids, there was the community garden where they each planted their own vegetable. All summer long they tended their garden and watched the veggies grow.
At the end of the year, they picked what they had and made a big salad as a reward. Beth was so proud when her youngest daughter remarked that they had “made this salad out of nothing”.
Today, Beth feels like herself again. She has gone back to school, and is now eligible to apply to a nursing program. She has a steady job, can afford a baby sitter so that she can go out with her friends, and even recently got engaged! Every day she teaches her children the lessons she has learned throughout her time in the Off Site Transitional Housing Program. One day a week, she draws one of her children’s names from a hat. Their treat? To pick what they want for supper and learn what it cost and how it’s made. They learn that ice cream is a treat when there’s room in the budget, and that ribs, while delicious, are just simply too expensive to make.
Before coming to WNAH YWCA Beth felt like all she was, was a Mother. Today, “I feel self-sufficient and independent, I feel like Beth”.