Meet Mary. Mary found herself on the slippery slope of the housing crisis after health problems caused her to leave her job and very quickly run out of resources. After selling her car, pawning her jewellery and spending her savings on rent, she was out of options. She and her dog Blake were in search of a place to live and coming up against one roadblock after another.
Her belongings were in a friend’s garage and Mary was now on the street, where she slept for days wondering how this had happened and where she could possibly go. She soon found herself at Carnegie Community Centre to begin calling the numbers on the housing list. First United answered the call.
Being present in someone’s time of need and despair with the tools they need to get back on track is what First United values above all else, and it is something that would be impossible without gifts from those who care enough to help.
It wasn’t long before Mary (and dog Blake!) had a bed in the women’s shelter at First United. Though she was scared, Mary recalls feeling the great calm of sanctuary upon entering.
“When you walk into the building, a peace and tranquility hits you,” she recalls.
The next day, over a bowl of what she describes as the best beet soup she has ever had, Mary was approached by a First United case worker and her situation was immediately mobilized into action. The results of this meeting were nothing short of extraordinary.
“She took me everywhere. She took me to my doctor’s appointment, she took me to Strathcona Mental Health, she took me to Welfare, she was there for the meeting. She gave me the tools to get back on my feet. The work was up to me but I never would’ve known about those things without her help.”
It has been 3 years since Mary had to leave her home but she is now in temporary social housing for the next 2 years until she is able to find a permanent home. She is attending school to complete her high school diploma, she is getting debt counselling, she has joined the tenant council in her building, she has secured disability assistance, and she routinely comes back to First United to visit the people who helped her back on her feet.
“The shelter at First United is so different because there is caring. They sit down with you, they join you for meals. First United is a place that gives hope; you’re not a number, you’re a human being.”
Many people aren’t aware of the services offered at First United. It goes well beyond food and shelter: through supporters like you, we help people feel empowered to take their lives back and we show them the tools to do so. These programs and services as well as the people who make them possible are funded entirely by donations. We hope you will consider a gift to First United so we can continue to be a guiding light for community members like Mary who just need a little understanding and empowerment.
“I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for First United. Because they gave me hope,” Mary admits. “They treated me just like everyone else and that is what I needed.”