Below are a just a few of the local impact stories from the United Way funded programs that support healthy people and strong communities.
Tammy and Troy’s Story
A local couple with mental illness find hope in the South Okanagan
Tammy and Troy are a married couple. Both have a diagnosed mental illness, and have lived through childhood trauma. Tammy lived in a supportive group home until the age of 31, and could not have imagined living on her own. Troy suffered through child abuse, and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
Tammy and Troy now live independently, and have been together for 15 years. They participate in many programs through Canadian Mental Health Association. They love the meals program at Unity House because it allows them to socialize with others, and eat nutritious food for a very good price. They often bring guests or family to enjoy the meals at Unity House. Tammy and Troy also participate in the art groups, bowling, cribbage tournaments, and games. These programs allow Tammy and Troy to forget their problems, and have hope for a better future.
Tammy has been able to eliminate her sleeping pills, and reduce her anti-psychotic medications by 60 %. They both hope for a full recovery, and they have hope for a better life thanks to the United Way funding and the support of CMHA.
One women’s journey of a life filled with trauma to a life filled with hope
Barbara arrived at NOW Canada from the following background:
She grew up with family – her dad has been absent since she was a child; she had a very rocky relationship with her family; The family was poor so she learned to self-sufficient from a young age and moved around a lot. She experienced sexual and emotional abuse as a child and started using drugs at the age of 12.
Before coming into the program she was couch surfing, sleeping outside – she had a transitional lifestyle;
She had Borderline Personality Disorder, experienced depression and anxiety, self-harmed and had eating disorder tendencies.
Since attending the program, Barbara moved into “Connie’s House” at NOW so there was consistent support available. She maintained sobriety but struggled with some of the program expectations and behavioural issues. Barbara wanted to complete the program and persevered. She remained abstinent and attended trauma therapy to work on her past.
Barbara has learned some valuable life lessons and self-care. She has learned structure and respect for others and is planning on going to Central School to complete her education. She continues working on herself and her boundaries with the trauma therapy program.
United Way’s investment in the Trauma Therapy Program offered this opportunity for Barbara. This critical program turned Barbara’s life around.
Finding refuge at a local women’s shelter
Susan began using services at Kelowna Women’s Shelter four years ago. In her words, she was “very broken” when she first came through the doors in search of help after leaving a toxic, abusive relationship.
Thanks to one-on-one counselling with one of our staff, Susan got the support she needed to move forward with a new life free of abuse. She also began attending weekly group counselling sessions offered through the Outreach Program, and says it truly changed her life.
“I feel like I have found a new family,” says Susan of her interactions with the Outreach Program and Kelowna Women’s Shelter. “The Shelter has provided so much support for me, and the other women have become like sisters; we all lift each other up. It is so nice that we have a safe place to share our stories.”
“I am paying it forward because I feel I have healed myself and want to continue to help newcomers,” she adds.
Susan is not alone. Time and time again, the support of Kelowna Women’s Shelter and its dedicated, highly-trained team has built hope and changed lives for the better. The women we work with say participating in group has been invaluable. They learn new skills and develop a healthier perspective on what qualities make for a good relationship, and they develop valuable personal connections that last a lifetime.
Without the ongoing support and financial backing of individuals and community organizations such as United Way, the Outreach Program would not exist, and women like Susan might never have found the refuge they so needed!
Note: the images and names have been changed to protect the identity of these clients.