When Adam came to Ernestine’s, three months before his 14th birthday, he was finally safe from the violence and abuse that had plagued his young life.
Staying in a shelter isn’t easy and kids like Adam make up the majority of people who are living in shelters; we have 21 children and youth with us now. Ernestine’s provides counselling, advocacy and support to the children and youth residing with us and we will do everything that we can to ensure that their time here is full of happy memories.
But just being safe isn’t very exciting for a teenage boy. Adam had to start at a new school. He had to make new friends, get used to new teachers. He had to share a room and he had to turn 14 in a place that wasn’t his home.
When Adam came to stay at Ernestine’s, we got to know him, as we do all our clients. It didn’t take long for us to learn that Adam’s passion was NBA basketball. But he had never seen a game live and a pair of Raptors tickets was beyond the reach of his mother, who had traded almost everything she had in exchange for her children’s safety.
He was an avid Toronto Raptors fan and, whenever he could, he watched their games on television, memorized their stats and talked about them nonstop.
So we reached out to our supporters and one of you stepped up. For Adam’s 14th birthday, Baked With Love By Hellen baked him a special Raptors cake in the shape of a basketball. And another generous supporter was able to provide 2 tickets to an upcoming game. Adam got court-side seats to see the Raptors play. If you ask him, he can’t help getting excited about the moment when the team stepped onto the court: “I heard the music and I knew they were coming out, but when I turned my head, they were RIGHT THERE!” And towards the end of the game, AdAM was able to go into the dressing room. He touched “the rock” and got to sit in Kyle Lowry’s, his favorite player’s, chair.
Adam knew that he had come to the shelter in order to start a better life, but thanks to Ernestine’s supporters, he got a sense of what “a better life” could be. And he will remember this for the rest of his life.
When you support Ernestine’s, you help to provide safety, shelter, clothing, food, and counselling to women and children who are starting a new life away from violence and abuse. And you also help to show them that this life really is better. Whether it’s a new backpack for school, a chance to try snowshoeing for the first time or even a pair of courtside tickets to a Raptors game, the money you donate doesn’t just make a difference in a general way.
Your gifts change the lives of people like Adam.
Four years ago, Candice’s abusive husband followed her to work and threatened her with a gun. With her
life in danger, she contacted the police and eventually arrived at the door of Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter
with her two children, Ben and Kyra. Candice, Ben, and Kyra were terrified. Their only possessions were the
clothes they’d worn when leaving home that morning. Candice had just lost her only source of income: she
couldn’t return to work because it would be unsafe for her and her colleagues.
But because Ernestine’s was there, she and the children were safe. The shelter staff helped her create a
safety plan. She and children were given clothes, toiletries, and a room of their own. They also received
counselling to help them recover from the trauma they’d experienced. Soon, the children were enrolled into
new schools. Candice joined the shelter’s parenting class, where she learned how mothers can strengthen
their bond with their children, which is often weakened through trauma. The staff helped her with legal
matters and went with her to court to make sure that she was safe. Slowly, Candice, Ben and Kyra began to
rebuild their lives free from violence.
Despite the chaos they’d lived through, Candice managed to create a stable environment for her children.
She made sure they were well-fed, well-dressed, and always did their homework. She taught them to
be polite and respectful. She was their strongest advocate, making sure they took advantage of every
opportunity. She even coached Ben’s basketball team and Kyra’s tennis team! Candice eventually found a
new job — and with the help of Ernestine’s staff—a permanent place to live where she and the children
would be safe.
Today, Candice, Ben, and Kyra are thriving. The children continue to excel in academics and sports: Ben won
a basketball scholarship from a private school and Kyra is a top tennis player in her age group. They continue
to visit Ernestine’s for ongoing counselling and to visit the food bank to stretch their small grocery budget.
They also attend our two annual client events to stay in touch with the staff and other residents, happy to
share successes and milestones.
Thank you for not only helping to save Candice’s life, but also for giving her children a brand new future. Sadly, there
are many more women like Candice. But with your help, Ernestine’s is working to end gender-based violence and
challenge the social inequalities that perpetuate abuse and make it harder for women to escape. We are advocating for more affordable housing, so women aren’t forced to stay in violent situations because they can’t afford to leave. We are seeking better labour legislation that protects women like Candice, so they don’t lose their jobs if they are experiencing abuse. And we are challenging the growing income inequality in Canada, so mothers living on low incomes don’t have to choose between paying the rent or feeding their children. Together, we can create lasting positive change, so that every family, like Candice, Ben, and Kyra, has a safe and secure future!