Tag Archives: Lori

Families the YW Has Served

Part of my job is to listen. I listen to people who tell me their stories. I think it is important to occasionally share these stories so that we don’t see families who live in our shelter as statistics but instead as humans.

One family we helped consisted of a woman that had one young daughter still at home and was also raising two of her grandchildren. This woman had been in Ontario about 20 years and had only lived at two different residences. Her family lived in their last home for seven years. Her home had gone through a few different owners but the last owner wanted to live in the house so the woman was evicted. She had nowhere to go. She came to the YW Family shelter and actively searched for permanent housing on a daily basis. All she wanted was a home for her children, grandchildren, and herself. She does not enjoy moving and wanted something permanent. Her income is minimal but she was good with her money and had good credit. The applications she filled out where complicated for her and a little intimidating. With the help of the YW Family Shelter she had a temporary place to live with her grandchildren and children, and many supports were available to her and her family. Support was needed in filling out different applications for housing including NRH. After almost three months of searching and applying to different places, this family was accepted into the NRH program. This family now has permanent affordable housing. This family also knows they can utilize the YW outreach program when needed. When I last checked, this woman was attending school.

On another occasion, we had a single father raising his two children. They moved to St Catharines from out of province hoping to find his employment search would be more successful. This family had planned on staying with family and had been encourage too come to St Catharines, but after living with family things did not work out as planned and work was harder to find than expected.  This single father raising two children found himself and family exhausted and homeless. The YW Family Shelter took this family in, gave them their own space were they could again engage as a single family unit, as well as food and outside support.  The children re-entered school and the father searched for permanent housing, but had the comfort of knowing he had support and that he and his children were safe. This family also would require furniture as they left most belonging in their home province. After a short time this family did find permanent housing. They were referred to a furniture bank, and the father re-entered school to broaden his area in his search for employment. This family has made a positive adjustment to our city and is doing well.

A young man recently received custody of his very young son but had to relocate to make things easier for his son. This young man had to give up his job because of daycare situations and the new addition of caring for his son. He had nowhere to live while he got back on his feet. The YW Family shelter took this family in, providing a home, food and support; this gave them the time they needed to catch their breath. This young man was a great father and was so proud of his son. It didn’t take long for this father to find a job that suited his new family life and accommodated his daycare situation. This father found permanent housing for himself and his son and is enjoying his role as a single working father.

The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 5 (Conclusion)

Continuation from The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 4

Monday April 1st – It’s finally here. My appointment is in the morning I’m 15 minutes early, I’m nervous the reception just smiles. Does she know something? I’m reading a health magazine when she calls me into the office. She tells me I can bring the magazine with me as I will be waiting in the room for the doctor. I’m trying not to act nervous but wonder why she said that. This is a new doctor I just started with so I’m not sure how to read the staff here or the doctor. Finally the doctor comes into the room. I’m trying to read his expressions: does he look concerned, I can’t tell but I know he’s not smiling. Could it be bad news just because he’s not smiling? This is crazy! So then he starts talking. He’s talking about my blood work. I forgot I even had blood work done. As he reads out my blood work report, in my head I’m yelling, “I could care less about that! Get to the mammogram information!” He goes through the cholesterol then potassium, kidneys and a few others. Ok, so I eat too many bananas. I don’t care just get to the mammogram. I’m just staring at him waiting for him to get to my breast results then he says “Yes you went for some other tests,” and he starts reading the report, to himself. I’m waiting for what seems like forever. I want to holler out, “Read it out loud! I need to know!” but of course I don’t. Finally he tells me, “Everything is ok.” He continues and says that I just need to continue with my regular exams. A long breath exhaled. I could feel my chest loosen up. It’s finally over! I am fine.

Now I’m in my car thinking what a nut I was, worrying myself so bad. I should have known all would be well. I can’t believe how worried I was, but it all worked out. As I’m driving home I’m telling myself I’ll never let myself worry like that again until I actually get the results. Then thinking “Yeah sure! who am I kidding!” It was a scary experience the waiting, the not knowing, the scary thoughts running through my head. I’m glad it’s over and once again I know I’m healthy.
Once again I would like to thank you for fallowing me through my scary journey. Please remember to go for your regular checkups. Although my experience was scary it could have been a lot worse. If that bright white spot on my first test had been cancer it was small enough that I would have caught it early enough, but if I had not gotten checked and it was cancer my outcome would have not been so happy.
So please get your yearly exams. I try to do mine around my birthday. Keeping healthy is my birthday gift to myself.
Lori Papetti YW Family Shelter and Outreach Advocate
Thank you so much for following Lori’s story on Y’s Women. Lori demonstrated huge strength in sharing her story with us and we at the YW are so incredibly proud of her. She has been an example of incredible strength and vulnerability. Thank you Lori for sharing such a personal and emotional journey with us.
What has been your journey? Can you relate with Lori’s story? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or contact us directly. Y’s Women is a blog dedicated to sharing the stories and lives of women in our community. If you have a story you would like to share, please send us a copy and we would be happy to include it in our blog. 

The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 4

Continuation from The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 3

Thursday March 28-The Family Shelter move is going to be the same day I find out my results. I find sometimes doctors are so used to illness and disease that most things are nothing to them. I’ve always been physically healthy. I’ve never stayed in the hospital except for child birth. I’ve never had surgery. The worst I’ve had was a blood clot and yes that sucked but I still never had to stay in a hospital. I don’t like to take medications except natural stuff and very little of even that. I do like my essential oils and aromatherapy. As good as all that sounds I do have one bad habit: I smoke and since I started this medical journey I have smoked a lot more. How bad is that? You would think I would stop but instead I’m worse. I’ve been telling myself if all goes well on Monday as soon as I’m settle with the Family Shelter I’ll quit again but……………… We will see how that goes.

I won’t be writing again until after Monday so I thought I would discuss why I decided to share this with you. My first thought was write, it will help me deal with the stress. But later I realized there are so many women going through this. They all must be so afraid but it’s such a common occurrence it’s almost like it should be no big deal. But when you’re the one it hits it’s really scary. I’ve seen women go through so much but they seem to deal with it so well. You see them on the street and they look good, you may even comment on how well they look. But can you listen when they tell you how scared they are? Do we see them at their worst or do we judge them by the great front they put up? I wonder, is that happy positive attitude for us or does it help them? Personally I hope it helps them. Then again I remember when asking older people how they were, their answer would be “Fine, but no one would listen if I said otherwise” My answer would always be, “I would listen.” I wonder how many people feel they can’t really express their feelings of fear or pain. I thought maybe writing this would let other women know that they aren’t the only ones scared.
We all are scared; illness of any kind can be scary. We all handle things differently. Writing this did help, although I was not sure about sharing it at the beginning and I’m not sure how I will feel after seeing the doctor on Monday. I have decided to send it in today before my results so I can’t change my mind about sharing it. No matter what my results are I feel it’s important to share what I have been feeling. I’ll share with my family after Monday and if all is good they’ll tell me what a butt head I was for worrying so much and we will all have a good laugh. For myself, I will try to always remember how scared I was so that when someone else is going through a similar issue I can let them know it’s OK to be scared, it’s ok to talk about it, just don’t let the fear consume you. I used work to help keep my mind off it and sometimes I would actually even forget all about it for a while.
I would like to say thank you for your time in following me through this. Writing my story has helped me get through the waiting and I hope reading my story can help someone else.

To be continued tomorrow.

The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 3

Continuation from The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 2
Thursday March 21- I don’t know why yesterday was so hard. I guess I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I feel much better today and have a much more positive outlook today. I am going to feel pretty silly doing all this worrying for nothing. I wonder if I’m over reacting because it probably is nothing.
Tuesday March 26- I am so busy with the Family shelter move, I’m tired but keeping really busy. I received a call from the doctor’s office today. They would like to make an appointment to see me about my tests. They told me it is not an emergency but the doctor would like to discuss my results. I asked why they just couldn’t tell me now over the phone but they would tell me nothing else. My schedule is pretty full so the only appointment I could get is next Thursday. After I made the appointment I realized I have a standing appointment for that time, so now I have to call them back and try to get something else, hopefully something sooner. I just want this all over with. At this point I expect its nothing and if it is something they might just want to keep an eye on it. I hate the not knowing. It’s been 20 days so far just waiting.
Wednesday March 27- Changed my appointment to Monday morning. Easter weekend. This weekend my nieces and nephews are coming on Thursday to paint Easter eggs after work. I boiled six dozen eggs, one dozen for each kid. Can’t wait till Monday. I’m sure I’ll get good news.
One Family is settled in one of our new Family Shelters and we have one other unit ready to go April 2nd. The move is going pretty well. The rest of the stuff in the St Paul shelter will be moved to storage on Monday.

To be continued tomorrow.

The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 2

Continuation of The Lonely & Well-worn Path- Part 1
Tuesday March 12- Well I tried to keep my mind off this test all week and I think I did pretty well until last night. I had a really hard time sleeping my mind was everywhere else except on sleep. I got in to the Tech room and the lab Tech. had my breast results in full view on the screen she called me over to explain why I was there having a recall exam. Apparently there is something there in my right breast, in the canal or duct, whatever it’s called. Whatever it is, it is small. She took five more pictures from different angles using different plates. This time it was a little uncomfortable.
I have decided to keep this to myself at least for now. I’m sure it will be nothing and I want to ignore it, not because I think that will make it go away but because I don’t want to think about it and I don’t want people looking at me differently or feeling sorry for me I’m sure I’ll do that enough for myself. I will keep myself extremely busy the rest of this month with the Family Shelter move. I can consume myself in worry about that. Moving is always stressful try moving 4 apartments on Easter weekend that should be loads of fun. I have plans this week to take my mother up north for a couple of days. I need to forget what I know so I won’t talk about it.
The lab Tec told me to call my doctor in two weeks. Holy Cow! It was less than a week when they called me back for the second test why would it take two weeks for information this time? You would think this one would be even faster. I hope I don’t need something like chemo. God I don’t want to lose my hair. OK that was not a positive thought. I’m kicking that thought right to the curb.
Monday March 18- I took the trip up north. I really didn’t relax much. I did a lot of driving and visiting. On Monday on my way to work I checked my messages to find the doctor’s office had called again telling me I had another appointment this time for an ultra sound. I call asking for date and times she said it’s today at 11 a.m. Wow that was fast. Off I go again to the hospital. After my test she again tells me it will be 2 weeks before I’ll know anything. Worry all over again. I just want to know. On a positive note the tests are really quick; in and out.
Wednesday March 20- I spoke to an old friend tonight on the phone I let her know what I was going through worrying and hoping it’s nothing. I told my oldest son about the tests and that I’m a little scared he’s the first one I told in person. It was hard to talk about it, it was hard to get the words out. I told him it may be nothing and even if it was something I would be fine but that it is scary. I have been having a lot of tightness in my chest, anxiety. I don’t know if it helped to talk about it but I felt the need to say something to him. He’s 27 and he’s pretty good at putting things into perspective. I told him after this conversation I didn’t want to talk about it anymore until I get the results back. I want to get it out of my mind and keep busy.

To be continued tomorrow.

The Lonely & Well-Worn Path- Part 1

For the next week, we will be posting a series of journal entries from the YW’s Family Shelter Outreach Advocate, Lori Papetti as she journeys down a seemingly lonely path. It’s a path no woman wants to walk along, however, it is a well traveled road by many women before her.
Come back to Y’s Women each day this week to follow Lori’s story, The Lonely & Well-Worn Path.
Wednesday March 6 – It was a nice day at work, not too busy. I felt like I got a lot accomplished. I got home and felt a little strange. I haven’t had much time to myself lately and this feeling that I was supposed to do something or be somewhere was consuming me. I guess I’m just not used to having time to myself. I walked over to my phone to check for messages since I had not been home all day or evening on Tuesday. I listened to my messages, one concerning another family member, one from a friend and then it came, a call I never expected, never even thought about. One from my doctor, a short message just stating I have been scheduled for a recall mammogram. They gave the date, time and place. That’s it. Well I listened to this message 3 times trying to understand what this meant. I called the doctor’s office knowing full well they were closed but left a message asking them to call me to provide more information about this recall mammogram. Now I’m at the computer googling any information I can find on this recall mammogram. Did they find something? I’ve never felt anything; this was just a routine checkup I had.
Six days until my next exam and then I’ll have to wait a few days for results. This is so scary. I worried about my health insurance but was thankful because through my job I have some coverage. The last couple of years I had no coverage at all. I own my own home so chances are I would have lost that without some kind of coverage. What about my job?
I’m not scared of dyeing, but I am really scared of being sick or not being able to take care of myself. It’s amazing the things that go through your mind when you get a scary message like this.
I started thinking about the women I know that have gone through breast cancer. My first thought was my aunt. She is a strong woman full of life. She made it and is doing fine.
I will admit I’m scared, I like my breasts. I know it might be wrong but they seem a part of my identity. When my weight is out of control I would wear clothes that brought attention to them instead of to my weight. Yes I’ll admit at times they got in the way but all in all I like my breasts.
I know I’m a strong woman. I know I’ll survive.
I’ve met many women in the last few years that have dealt with so many difficult issues I feel I need to look at this as a small issue. These women have dealt with so much in their lives how can I possibly let this issue be a major concern to me?
I can see as I am even writing this that my mind is already thinking the worst. I will work hard on keeping a good attitude and try really hard not to even think about it until the results are in. In fact I’m sure everything will come out fine. The lab Tec probably smudged the negative. I am going to try to not think about this until after the next results are in.

To be continued tomorrow.

We Are Here to Help- Family Shelter Update

The YW Family Shelter has been in operation for just over a year. We started out in a four-plex and could house four different families at a time. The shelter was almost always full with families moving in and out. Since we opened in July 2011, 62 families have been housed and almost all of them found permanent housing after leaving the YW Family Shelter.

The average stay at the Shelter is two to three months, just enough time for a family to catch their breath, get on their feet, and find new affordable housing so they can settle in permanently and resume their life. The time it takes to find housing varies though. Some find housing within a few weeks, others take a little longer.

The YW Family Shelter has housed 19 Families since Sept 2012, prepared 8,625 meals, had 16 moms and 11 dads utilize the YW Family Shelters and 47 children have been able to lay their sleepy heads on a YW bed, keeping warm and sheltered from the outside elements. Many of the dads were single fathers raising their children without a partner. The impact of having a safe place to rest during such a tough time in your life is huge.

Originally, the Family Shelter was located on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines, however we had to move in April due to demolition of the building. We were fully anticipating this happening, and had made plans to move to a new location, however last minute those plans fell through and we were stuck without a place to put our families. I must admit, it was scary not knowing were these families were going to go, but the YW and the community came through again. Just before we closed the YW Family Shelter on St Paul Street, we acquired two new units in the community; a two bedroom and a three bedroom apartment. These units allowed families to stay together at a time when they needed each other most.

I can’t tell you how good it feels when someone calls needing our service and I can say “don’t worry we are here to help” and “yes, we have room”. Those four words give me the greatest feeling. “Yes we have room.” On the other hand, I feel so awful when all our units are full and we can’t take a family in when they are in desperate need. I can refer them somewhere else and/or put them on our waiting list, but chances are, this family will be separated. The YW and other agencies are doing their best to house the homeless, but with our economy the way it is, it’s hard to keep up with the demand. I just can’t say it enough: Ontario needs more affordable housing. The YW is working hard to acquire more units we can utilize as Family Shelters. We are expecting to have more availability in May.
Turning a family — any family — away in their time of need is an awful feeling. It’s definitely not a part of my job that I enjoy, but it is a reality. There are times we just do not have anything available.
I would like to thank the YW, the many other shelter agencies, and the community for coming to the aid of families that are in housing crisis. You make a difference in these families lives that goes beyond the physical need for shelter. Thank you.

Lori Papetti, Family Shelter/Outreach Advocate

Do you agree that more affordable housing is needed in Ontario. Ring this doorbell to show your support for more affordable housing so that the many families in need can find housing in their communities.

News Flash: Good Deeds Make a Good Person

You, yes you. You’re a good person!

Believe it or not, there are hundreds, if not millions, of Canadians out there who do good deeds all the time. Are you one of them? Have you ever put a coin in a meter for a stranger so that they won’t get a ticket? Have you opened a door for someone, or let someone in front of you at the grocery line? Have you stopped to donate to someone on the street, donated time to a charitable organization, or maybe spent some time with a lonely person? Maybe you gave away a smile to someone who needed it? Have you helped a neighbour shovel their walk?
Even just asking someone how they are and then really listening to them can be a great act of kindness. Are you a good listener to your friends and partners? Have you ever held the door for the elderly, or given up your seat in a busy doctor’s office, or on a bus? All these acts seem so insignificant on their own but these daily acts made by people like you make the world a much better place.
Every time you do something like this you are making someone else’s life just a little better, and you are in turn helping yourself.
So now you can pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. You are a good person!
Stay in the click, don’t be a stick, and continue on with all your good deeds.
Lori Papetti

Lose the Hate!

Prejudice: (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge – Websters Dictionary

Prejudices can come in all different forms and can be seen in many different places. Often it’s easier to look the other way than to do something about it, but when it comes knocking on your door, it’s time to take a stand.

I am writing this post because the YW recently had another family looking for housing, and like many others, they were driven from their home because of prejudice neighbours, neighbours who made “preconceived judgements…without just grounds.” The neighbours were so full of hate that these families were forced by fear to leave their homes. How awful it is to have to pack up and move because of fear? Imagine not feeling safe in your own home, and to wake up in the morning to find your property vandalized. These families fear for their children’s safety as well as their own. The unfortunate reality though, is that these families are not fleeing from some far off country, you’ve never heard of. I’m talking about leaving neighbourhoods right here in our own community.
When a family comes to the YW stating they can no longer stay in their home because they fear a neighbour, it just appalls me. They feel they don’t want to cause trouble and they take the abuse for as long as they can. They try to ignore the racial slurs thrown at them and their children. They don’t enjoy their yards for fear of being seen and ridiculed. No one should have to live like that.
You would think here in Canada, a country considered a multi-cultural “mosaic,” that prejudice would not exist or at least be very minimal.You would think we would be accepting of others and embrace our differences. How I wish I could say that was true. It’s not! Here in Canada where most of us, or our ancestors, have come from other parts of the world, we still have people in our community who think their race is better. What an awful way to live. I almost feel sorry for people with such closed minds who think their race is better. If only they would open up their minds and learn from everybody around them. Try different foods, learn about other cultures or maybe even other religions. Every culture and every race has something to give and teach us all. Lose the hate! Hate is not good for you or your community.
I believe prejudice grows through ignorance and fear. There is no need for ignorance. Open your mind, explore your community, get to know people from other countries, and ask questions. Your fear will vanish, your life will be fuller, and we will all have a much healthier community.

Life Happens

The YW Family Shelter as been in operation just over a year and it houses four families at a time. It’s really quite amazing to see all the different families going through this shelter and see the relief when I  tell them we have room and can take them in. The gratefulness they express is heartfelt. The fears they have are enormous. The stress of being homeless is bad enough, but to be homeless with children to care for is almost unimaginable to most of us.

Yet it happens right here in Canada — in your own back yard right here in St Catharines — and it happens a lot. You may think this could never happen to you, but let me tell you, most of these families believed that it wouldn’t happen to them. But it did.
Life happens. Utility prices go up, food gets more expensive, jobs get lost, cheques can be late, unexpected bills can arrive, medication costs can add up, and then your building can be sold out from under you. It could be any one of these issues and many more that push you into homelessness. Most of us might get through one or two of these with our savings, but when too many issues come at you all at once it’s like a landslide. And you may not be able to dig yourself out. You may be able to handle the finances, but try finding affordable housing if your are downsizing to accommodate a decrease in salary or loss of a job. You may encounter a landlord asking for application fees. Can you imagine paying to apply to live somewhere? And paying not just a small fee but $100 or more? It can happen and it does happen.
When you lose your home it’s a really scary thing. Your children feel the stress you’re going through. They are scared too. They are afraid of leaving their home, friends, and possibly their school. They may not understand what’s going on but they know something is wrong. Maybe they sense mom and dad are scared. Children find it very confusing. Parents are not supposed to get scared, or so they believe. It really is a frightful time for the whole family.
The pleasure I get when I can tell parents to relax, and that we are here to help or that we’ll get you settled — give you a place to rest, a place to sleep, a place to regroup with your family, and help you in your search for permanent housing — it’s the most gratifying feeling. The look of relief on their faces is priceless. You can actually see some of the stress disappearing from their faces. The parents look at the children and feel good assuring them everything is going to be OK. Then the children smile and when some get excited, that’s when you realize how worried these children really were. The issue of homelessness belongs to all of us and homelessness can happen to any of us.
It’s a lot of work raising a family and sometimes parents need a little help. I’m extremely glad the YW Family Shelter is here to give families that hand up, to get them back on their feet, to let them take a breath, to help them get suitable permanent housing, and most of all to keep the family together.

Lori Papetti is the YW’s Outreach worker and Family Shelter advocate. Currently the YW has four family units all with a 85-90% occupancy rate. This past week we had a family of 8 looking for a place to stay. It can happen to any of us.

Photo credit: Cia de Foto / Foter.com / CC BY