On Thursday October 29, 2015 Interval House of Ottawa held its first Community Appreciation Event. It was a full house at Orange Art Gallery, and a pleasure to share with our guests the impact our donors, volunteers and community partners have on the lives of women and children who are fleeing violence. Thank you to all who attended.
Guests spent a few hours sampling wine and craft beer selected by Savvy Company. The evening featured products from Ontario wineries that were made by or owned by women. We also had the opportunity to hear from a former resident who shared the story of her journey. This is her story….
Angelina is the mother of three kids. She owns a successful gardening business, is an active running, and a student in university. But this wasn’t always her life. She used to feel trapped and saw no way out of her situation. She knew she was in a bad situation, but believed her abuser when he said she had no choice but to stay; that as an immigrant to Canada she had no alternatives. She did not know where to begin to start life over again and still provide food, shelter and clothing to her children. She had lost hope.
She describes the turning point in her life as the day when “I ended up bloody.” Angelina contacted the police and was put in touch with the Victim Crisis Unit, who brought her and her children to IHO. At the shelter, Angelina was given assistance and rebirth.
“My counsellor asked me, ‘what have you done for yourself?’ and I discovered self-care. At Interval House there is support 24/7. Trust me, if you need to cry at midnight, you’re allowed to! And it’s ok.”
In addition to basic needs like safe shelter and meals, Angelina and her children were provided with counselling, assistance to find a family lawyer, connections to community programs, daycare, assistance finding affordable housing, and a letter of reference for university.
One year later, Angelina says that her time at IHO “transformed my life from hopeless to hopeful. I have gone back to school, attending university. My kids are back in school and are thriving! I have a good life now. I’m contributing to Canadian society. These wouldn’t be possible without Interval House. I was given a sliver of hope that there might be a place for me, and it gave me a new beginning; a bridge to a violence-free life and the opportunity to live a humble and productive life.”