During childhood, Courtney moved around a lot due to the breakdown in family relationships, financial struggles and instability. Family and Children’s Services was aware of her family and the challenges they faced. Courtney was removed from the home at the age of 12 years old. The next several years, she continued to move from place to place, which included living with distant relatives, foster placements, and group homes. At the age of 18, Courtney again found herself in need of somewhere to lay her head. Her head that felt a lot heavier than it had been in the past. Feelings of abandonment, guilt, grief, self harm and disappointment consumed most of her thoughts.
Courtney was connected to the YWCA and accepted a room at Harmony House. Courtney was again faced with moving; reluctantly she packed her belongings and prepared for her next ‘home’. Courtney spent the first few hours in her room, wondering what awaited her on the other side of her bedroom door, fearing the unknown and the unwanted. A history of trauma, abuse, depression, and anxiety will do this to anyone. After a few days, there was a quiet knock on her bedroom door. Courtney’s first reaction was to not answer, wanting to shut the world out – but her curiosity got the best of her and she answered. Little did she know in that moment she would be opening the door to one of her new best friends. Standing on the side of the door was one of her roommates holding a Blizzard from Dairy Queen; ice cream was Courtney’s greatest weakness. The two roommates sat and ate together, sharing stories of their past, likes, and dislikes. It turns out that Courtney was not alone, and that there were other youth that had been through similar situations as her. This was comforting and reassuring to Courtney. Courtney was partnered with a Housing Based Case Manager who actively worked to develop a youth-centered, trauma-informed support plan focusing on her unique strengths and needs. Together they focused on life-skills, meaningful daily activities and goal setting. Courtney was connected with additional supports within the community that focused on her mental health and well-bring.
Courtney started to notice a change in herself; she spent more time out of her room, engaging with her roommates, planning movie nights, cooking together, and even started going to the gym. Courtney started participating in other youth programs led by the YWCA, and her community of friends and supports grew. Courtney has been accepted into the Graphic Design program at Lambton College for this upcoming fall. Once again, she will be faced with moving into a new place. Although this does create stress and anxiety for her, she now has the tools she needs, independent living skills, supports, friends, and a strong sense of community to take this next step in her life.
Harmony House has provided a home for Courtney, a home that provided her the stability to settle in a focus on her needs and goals. Although Courtney has had many ‘homes’ before, there was something different for her this time. This home lead Courtney to her discovery that, ‘Home is not a place … it’s a feeling’. And Courtney will carry this with her as her journey continues.