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  • Writer's pictureInterval House of Ottawa

The legacy of Virginia Lorraine Stewart

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Celeste came to Interval House of Ottawa with bruises on her back from the iron her husband used to hit her. She was smart and capable, but saw neither of these qualities in herself after years of verbal abuse. During the early part of her relationship, she lost her self-confidence and when her husband started to beat her, she lost even more of herself. Celeste and her children lived in fear each and every day.

But Celeste was very resilient; she did not give up. She left her home and her abuser. She came to IHO with her two children in the hopes of rebuilding their lives free of violence. In the shelter, Celeste and her children felt safe for the first time in many years. They were now living in a beautiful, comfortable, secure environment with others who were going through the same thing. Celeste and her children received counselling support and help to secure affordable and safe housing in the community.

Stack of books with apple on top

One of Celeste's dreams was to return to school and become a nurse. Thanks to the Virginia Lorraine Stewart (VLS) Fund administered by IHO, she was awarded a grant that helped her fulfill her dream by paying her tuition fees and books.

Some time ago, IHO was honoured to receive a bequest from the Estate of Virginia Lorraine Stewart. The fund created in her name is used to assist current and former residents of IHO in sustaining a life free from violence. The VLS Fund is primarily used to support residents with education, health, and wellness needs.

Last fiscal year, the Virginia Lorraine Stewart fund provided $8,044.40 to help improve the lives of IHO clients. These awards included:

  • La Cité Collegiale, Administration program

  • Music lessons for youth

  • Stroller, car seat adapter, and toddler seat for newborn

  • Nursing uniforms

  • Supplies for newborn twin babies

  • Algonquin College, Criminal Justice program

  • Algonquin College, Police Foundations program

  • Auto impound fee

  • Foot care nursing training

  • Algonquin College, Criminal Justice program

  • Transportation to a sexual abuse support program

  • Driver's education course

IHO is honoured to continue the legacy of Virginia Lorraine Stewart. The fund in her name allows us to see the joy on the faces of women and youth who receive its support, knowing they are being given the opportunity to build their new future, free from violence.

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