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"I wish my mother had brought my brother and me to a shelter like this when we were children," he said as he left our meeting at Interval House. He's the articulate, confident CEO of a successful Canadian company, but his posture changed and his face revealed pain when he opened up to speak of the abuse his mother experienced at the hands of his father. His eyes welled up as he talked about what it felt like to be a boy living in that house. You could see it still haunted him and is what drives him to live his life in a different way than his father.
We don’t always think about it, but language can be a safety issue. Whether you are visiting the doctor, buying groceries, using a bank or obtaining work, for anyone trying to gain independence, the ability to communicate in the local language is key. That’s why a caring committee of volunteers created a new ESL program for residents of Interval House.
They say it takes a village. At Interval House our “village” of volunteers comes in all shapes and sizes. TJX is inclusive of Winners, HomeSense, and Marshalls stores and makes up part of that village. One of its corporate philanthropy goals includes a commitment to helping families make the transition to a new beginning. In 2013, TJX Canada came to Interval House for the first time and a partnership blossomed.
It’s too early to celebrate. While saddened by the many high-profile celebrity abuse cases last year, those of us who work with victims of violence were pleased to see the stirring up of dialogue around domestic abuse issues when these cases were thrust into the media spotlight. The unprecedented public interest inspired Interval House to commission an opinion poll to take the pulse of public attitudes about violence against women. The results were troubling and revealed why it’s more important than ever to keep this conversation going.
As a counsellor for the Children’s Program, Elizabeth Foster has noticed that mother-child relationships can be strained when families arrive at Interval House. Some children are confused about why they suddenly left home, while the older kids might understand the reasons too well. None of them are keen to talk about it.
Summer is one of the busiest times of the year at Interval House. Many women with children do not want to disrupt their children’s school year, and have been making sacrifices, waiting for the school year to end before bravely leaving an abuser.
But now that school’s out, that means we have an influx of new residents at our shelter during the summer months. With the kids out of school and our counsellors busy registering them for new schools in the fall, we often require additional support and resources.
Every year, the Toskan Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) donates over $1 million to social service charities. And thanks to the hard work of some dedicated students this year, Interval House is the proud recipient of two $5,000 grants.
For many, June is graduation month, and the same goes for Interval House! Every June, we plan a graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the women who completed our Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS) Program over the past year. And this year’s Fifth Annual BESS Graduation was a big success!
An Interval House-commissioned survey released last week found that 1 in 6 of Canadians have a mother who has experienced domestic abuse. That means thousands and thousands of mothers across the country are victims of domestic violence, and that thousands of those women spent Mother’s Day this year in a women’s shelter.
But what does Mother’s Day look like at a women’s shelter?
Looking for a way to have fun, score some great buys, and help eradicate domestic violence? Come out this Saturday, May 9, to the Royal LePage National Garage Sale for Shelter! Royal LePage realty offices across Canada will be participating, with all proceeds benefiting women’s shelters and violence prevention programs throughout the country.