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On my quest to find happiness, I took a meditation class and I learned about the word seva: it means service. The whole idea is to be more compassionate—to give without expecting anything back—and it got me thinking about reconnecting with a place that made such a positive impact on my life.
I was only 2 years old, and my sister was 4 when our mom brought us to live at Interval House. This is when they were still in the little building on Huron Street. I remember the big living room where we ran and played and I remember finding a vent on the wall where we would whisper to each other across the room. And the washroom—lots of kids brushing our teeth together!
Here I am, more than 25 years later. I’m about to graduate from business school and my memories of living in the shelter are so positive. I can still picture the nice lady with red hair who always carried me around, and the room full of donated presents where my mother went to choose our Christmas gifts I can see now how the whole experience set us in the right direction.
My sister and I talked about how we used to see all the moms gathered together, rummaging through piles of newly-donated clothing. When I think about the women squabbling over those clothes now, it makes me emotional. We understand how much it means to these families. And that’s why we decided to donate clothing for the women at Interval House, and to deliver them ourselves.
The first time we went back, we brought along some of the old photos we have from our time there. Right away Nadine and Arlene remembered us. Imagine, with so many families coming and going that they remembered ours! They even confirmed my memory about another staff member who really loved kids— the woman with the red hair!
Thinking back on it now, I don’t remember seeing my mom sad. It’s amazing how parents can shelter kids from this kind of stuff. I didn’t even know that it wasn’t our home. I just thought it was a really fun place.
Some of my fondest memories:
I remember my mom would bring us to The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and all of those amazing shows as a young kid and I know the tickets were from Interval House donors. I think that’s why I still love Broadway shows—those were such wonderful memories.”
I always had my blanket with me—it’s just a plain grey knitted blanket and I still have it. and it was just the best thing. It’s very big but it’s light and thin and it keeps me warm. I just love the feeling of it, the texture.”
My mom would sometimes talk about her injuries and how my dad was very quick tempered, all of a sudden good mood, bad mood and that it was unpredictable. These were only brief conversations but I don’t recall seeing the injuries.
If you or your family have spent time at the centre and would like to reconnect with Interval House or share your story, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-924-1411 x 238.