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Connection Point Church & Resource Centre in Victoria offered a hand up and a way forward for one single mother and her son.
Sarah had a great childhood. Her parents were both teachers and the family members were able to spend weekends, summers and holidays together. As she entered her 20s, Sarah started to enjoy partying, and at age 30, she unexpectedly found herself pregnant.
“The biggest thing I struggled with was stability,” Sarah shares. “I was a single mom… no money… no real place to stay.”
She moved from job to job and from house to house. Although she’d been working in childcare for many years, she found it hard to set roots in any one place or home, and her mental health suffered. “I think I moved eight times in three years,” she says, describing the lack of a foundation in her life. She struggled with money and did not want to admit she needed help.
Then she heard about the Play Café at the Connection Point Church & Resource Centre in Victoria, a program that provides a place for parents and their children up to the age of five to gather, play and enjoy healthy snacks.
Operated by The Salvation Army, Connection Point is a place where everyone is welcome, can feel safe, and will find encouragement, hope and love. It provides community resources, food, a safe place to access Wi-Fi and coffee, emergency hampers, emotional and spiritual care, and one-on-one connection with counsellors.
This weekly children’s program became a consistent stop for Sarah, her son and the children Sarah was watching as part of her nannying work. When things started to get difficult for Sarah during the COVID-19 pandemic, her sister reached out to a caseworker at Connection Point letting them know that Sarah could use some help during Christmas time.
“There were so many things in my life I wanted to change, but I didn’t know how to do it myself,” Sarah says.
While at Connection Point, Sarah learned about the Pathway of Hope program, which helps break the cycle of poverty and give people the tools they need to be independent. Counsellors help participants develop their own plan and work alongside participants to help them accomplish their goals. This program allowed Sarah to work through her goals as she learned about budgeting, eating healthy and making time to look after herself and her home. The counsellors helped her develop a plan to return to school and find a new career.
Sarah describes the challenge of receiving support that first Christmas. “I’ve never been one to want to accept help,” she says, “but the relationships I made at Play Café made that easier.” Since starting the Pathway of Hope program she has experienced great results. She applied for school, her budget is on track, she has savings again, and she can focus on her mental and physical health. “It’s impacted every part of my life,” Sarah says.
Captain Tinisha Reid of The Salvation Army explained the progress she has seen Sarah achieve. “The biggest change has been the confidence to move forward and the means to do so,” she says. “It’s been so beautiful to see her celebrate every goal.”
For the first time, Sarah is looking forward to the change that is coming. She credits that to The Salvation Army. “You’ve truly changed my life,” she says. “Without this program, I don’t know where I would be … now, I’m so excited for the future.”
To learn more about the Pathway of Hope program and how you can make a donation to The Salvation Army, please visit SalvationArmy.ca.
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