If I had to choose one word to describe myself, it would be relentless. I have fought so hard to rebuild my life. While I have overcome common challenges we all face; my truly life-altering experience was being kidnapped in my mid 20’s. It was and still is a nightmare that shook me to my very core and sent me into a downward spiral.
I yearned to feel normal again, but to cope; I turned to drugs, alcohol, and what I now recognize as abusive relationships. I felt like I was stuck in the middle of a cyclone. A cyclone that took me eight years to find my way out of. In 2013 I reclaimed my life. I was hopeful that the next chapter in my life was going to be one of change.
I got clean and started down the path of what I deserved… a good life!
Living paycheque to paycheque, as many of us do, I was worried about finding myself homeless at any given minute. Unable to afford my own place, I had to figure out something quickly. After looking everywhere, without success, I walked through the front doors of the YW shelter. I was welcomed with a warm smile. I met with a staff member, filled out paper work, and by the end of the meeting my fear had faded and I had learned so much. I never felt like number or a story-just me- Heather. The YW has programs on different tiers. The program that was suitable for me is called Offsite Housing; structure paired with independence.
When I entered the YWCA off-site program in February of 2016, I was introduced to my advocate, Lisa. We always met once a month, but she was always just a text or phone call away. I swear you could ask her anything about services in the Niagara Region and she had the answer. No matter how rough her day was she always had a smile. The program was for a year, which meant while living alone I could focus on my growth. After that year I had the opportunity to take over the lease.
Initially, living alone was hard for me. Some of my old fears resurfaced, but as time passed it got better. Lisa was there every step of the way. I have so much more than a roof over my head now; I have people who really believe in me. Here I sit today, living on my own. I have my very own nest to go with my new wings; all thanks to the YWCA.
There are a lot of communities that do not have programs available like this. I am truly grateful that ours does. It’s life changing. Not every experience that starts off negative ends that way.