Maria: A Former Resident's Story
Long story short, life didn’t happen the way I planned it. The years I spent with my abusive partner was the most difficult years of my life. I was depressed, stressed, scared, and hopeless. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn, but I knew I couldn’t continue to live life as I was.
If I was on my own I would have just run away, but because of my two children, I needed to have a plan in place. I needed to know where to go and what to do. The problem was I had no idea where to get that information.
I was fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people at my job that I felt safe enough to open up to. One day at work I broke down and told my friend what was going on. You can’t imagine the relief I felt when she told me that there were people and places that dealt with situations exactly like mine. At that point, I was so desperate I didn’t care what the place was like, I just knew I needed to get out. I packed a few things, put the kids in the car, and left.
When we came to Interval House of Ottawa (IHO) it was not what I expected at all. When you hear the word “shelter”, you imagine one big room with a bunch of beds and a line in the kitchen to get a plate for your meal. Boy was I wrong. IHO’s house is beautiful, inside and out. The building was clean; my kids and I had our own room, and my kids loved the big playroom. I felt so secure and welcome, and for the first time in all those horrible years, I felt happy and safe. It felt so good to know that I wasn’t alone and that I was surrounded by people who wanted to help me.
There are no words to express how grateful I am that my kids and I had a place like IHO to help us along our journey. I will never forget the kindness, love and support the team gave to my family when we needed it the most. We were very lucky to meet all the amazing women who work there and to have them in our life.
The best part is that my story is far from over. Thanks to the Virginia Lorraine Stewart (VLS) fund, I recently received the financial support I needed to go back to school. When my IHO counsellor told me the reason this funding is available was because someone left a gift to IHO in their will over 22 years ago, I was amazed. It’s so wonderful to think about all the women and children that this one gift has helped, and will continue to help for years to come. - Maria, former IHO resident