During childhood, Amy encountered many struggles. At the age of 12 she was placed with a foster family during a time when her mother was facing a number of personal challenges. After being in the care of the Children’s Aid Society for 1 year, Amy moved in with her aunt. 5 years later it was time for her to move again, this time living with her grandmother. Due to physical and verbal abuse, this living arrangement only lasted a few short months and once again Amy was in need of a place to live.
The YWCA was there to respond, by moving Amy into Harmony House. Harmony House provides young women a place to call home and the opportunity to make a healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood. When Amy first moved in to Harmony House, she would rarely come out of her room and kept to herself. With little self-esteem, her eyes were often looking down and self-harm was common practice. Amy was partnered with a Housing Based Case Manager who actively worked to develop a youth centred, trauma informed support plan focusing on her unique strengths and needs. Together they focused on life-skills, meaningful daily activities and so much more. With ongoing support over three years, Amy continued to grow. With growth, as expected there were bumps along the way. Through the advocacy of her Housing Based case Manager, Amy was referred to psychiatric services, properly diagnosed, medicated, and started ongoing therapy sessions. Amy continued to build her self-esteem and develop friendships with her roommates at Harmony House, friendships that are sure to last a lifetime. Amy seen other youth come and go, and with each new youth that walked through the door, Amy welcomed them into the home. Amy enjoyed baking and quite often the house smelt of freshly baked banana bread as I came to visit.
Amy continued to thrive and later completed the YWCA’s Youth Engagement Project where she gained employability skills training and job experience. After three years living at Harmony House, Amy transitioned to the YWCA’s Women’s Residence. This warm and inviting 21 bed residence provides emergency, transitional and long-term housing for women from all parts of Elgin County. Amy continued to actively work with her Housing Based Case Manager. After a short term stay at the Women’s Residence, Amy was offered a bachelor apartment through St. Thomas Housing. Amy accepted this unit within confidence that over the past 3 ½ years she had gained the life skills, and tools to successfully live independently. A month after Amy moved into her new apartment, she started the RECE program at Fanshawe College.
The Amy that first walked through the doors of the YWCA with her head down, is no longer, Amy now holds her head up high; with a radiant smile and looks forward to the future. Amy now knows the real meaning of ‘Welcome Home’.