With Giving Tuesday just around the corner, we're sharing Voices of Hope with you - an opportunity to hear directly from the people who have been supported by Sign of Hope funded programs. Here's Valerie’s story.
Valerie describes the time she spent living out of her car as devastatingly lonely.
After a serious accident in 2017 left her with severe injuries, Valerie found herself alone and homeless.
“I came to Alberta as a geographical cure. But that never works,” says Valerie, who moved from Saskatchewan shortly before her accident. With no family, friends, or community support to lean on, she had no choice but to spend her days alone and her evenings looking for a safe parking lot to sleep in.
After months trapped in this cycle, Valerie was able to access social supports to find housing. She started rehabilitation and began taking care of her physical health, all the while, her mental health continued to deteriorate.
“I was an isolated person. I didn’t do anything, I didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t know anybody. I was in a deep depression,” says Valerie.
At her lowest point, a social worker suggested she connect with Catholic Social Services’ Welcome Home program to connect with other women in the community.
Welcome Home pairs the recently-housed with volunteers to participate in meaningful activities in the community as a way to combat the social isolation formerly-homeless individuals experience.
Valerie describes meeting Shelley and Sonya, her volunteer matches, as “coming home.” The three women met at a local coffee shop and connected immediately. They spent two hours talking that first day, and then made plans to meet again. Now, the three get together weekly to visit museums, attend concerts, and return to their favourite coffee shop.
“I love these ladies. They are my kindred sisters,” says Valerie. “When I connected with Shelley and Sonya it was like a bright light came on in my life.”
Today, Valerie is housed, happy, and continues to work on her health, both physical and mental. She credits Welcome Home with, “saving her life,” and for helping her feel good about herself again, after years of feeling disconnected.