Pam had been having a rough time for years when she finally built up the courage to put herself first. She let her ex take the kids while she searched for housing, in Fort Erie, which wasn’t easy. Pam found shelter with another agency for a time in St. Catharines but it didn’t provide her with all of the supports she needed. That’s when she found the YWCA Niagara Region’s West Niagara Affordable Housing program (at the time named GAHP).
Pam entered the program just over a year ago, working closely with her Transitional Housing worker Cheryl. “It all happened so fast! Cheryl told me she had a place for me in Beamsville and I was like, yeah I guess I can see it,” clearly nervous of living in small town after being in St. Catharines for the three years prior.
Living in survival mode, you’re always worried about what’s going to happen next, what other shoe will drop.
”Cheryl showed me the house and my eyes must have jumped out of their sockets. It was so big and I could picture my family here. Yeah, we’ll take it!”
“I went through court for almost four years for me to get my children. I now have full custody of them!” Once Pam and two of her children moved in, the kids were so uncertain. They had been through so much and were terrified of even shutting their bedroom doors, especially her youngest, Julie. “Living in survival mode, you’re always worried about what’s going to happen next, what other shoe will drop.”
It has taken some time but 11-year-old Julie now feels comfortable closing her bedroom door. 14-year-old Josh had been struggling with ADHD but is now safely off his meds, socializing and making friends at school rather than being stuck in his room.
“Everything’s finally feeling secure,” Pam says.
Through her first year in the program, Pam has already been connected with many services in the area including Community Care West Niagara and the Beamsville Employment Help Centre. Cheryl and Pam high-fived as Pam began talking about all of her success in just a year of the three-year program. “I got my kids back and have full authorization. I got dental work done I’d never been able to before.” She’s finally been able to secure her family. Her oldest son John graduated from high school, has found a job, and his own place. Her second eldest, Jake, will be graduating shortly and is on the same track as John, visiting regularly.
I love this community and it’s where I want to be.
“Now that everything is going well with the kids, I can relax and focus on all of the things I can finally do. The best thing I ever did was come to the YW. Having three years in the (West Niagara Affordable Housing) program really helps because you need more than a year to truly feel established and secure. And the skills development the YW offers is a very important key to helping. It brings out stuff you didn’t realize you needed help with.”
Pam’s next goals are full time employment and obtaining her own vehicle. When asked where she sees herself in the future she says, “Here. I’m settled. I love this community and it’s where I want to be. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and the kids really like it here too.”
“This is the number one program. The YW is where to go. I can’t believe that things are coming together; that this house is possible; that everything’s calm.”
Our recent fundraiser Coldest Night of the Year was held in benefit of our West Niagara Affordable Housing program – you can still donate until the end of the month.