When Paola first came to Canada from her home in Central America, it was to find a safer life for herself and for her son. Equipped with a university degree, she was sure that finding employment would be easy but it soon became obvious that the language barrier was going to be almost impossible to overcome. Paola became one the the many “hidden homeless” in Niagara, living with friends, moving from couch to couch.

In 2017, Paola learned about the YW’s Off-Site Transitional Housing Program and has made great strides ever since she’s moved into her unit.

Right around Christmas time last year, her mom got terminally ill and Paola decided to go back home to help her father take care of her mother in her last days. What she didn’t know was that her mother was going to hang on to life for months to come, trapped in a coma. While Paola was there for her family, at her mother’s side every step of the way, here in Canada, Ontario Works, her source of income, could not cover her program fees any longer. She had been out of the country for too long. Paola was given two choices, both of which seemed impossible: leave her mom to maintain her housing in Canada, or lose her home in Canada to stay with her family in this difficult time.

It is the Katie Campbell Fund that saved Paola from having to make this choice. These special funds provided to the YW to help in situations like this allowed us to hang on to the unit for another month and to find a storage unit for her belongings. They helped Paola spend the time she needed to say goodbye to her mother and eventually, to grieve her mother’s passing surrounded by her family. When she returned to Canada earlier this year, we were able to welcome her back to the program and to house her in one of our Off-Site units.

Paola is working hard towards reaching her goals, excelling in her ESL classes. She believes becoming proficient in reading and writing English will be the key to finding employment. We have no doubt that she will reach this next milestone in 2019!