United Way : “Seeing is Believing Bus Tour” PART 2: The Carling Family Shelter

Red United Way Ottawa logo

During the United Way, “Seeing is Believing Bus Tour” one of our stops was at the Carling Family Shelter. This shelter houses a total of 44 families and it is ALWAYS FULLY BOOKED!  They actually  have a waiting list for families that are in need of the use of the facilities year round. I was surprised to find out that 75% of the people living at the Carleton family shelter are children; the shelter has anything between 50 and 100 children living there at any given time. UnitedWay Ottawa funds the Carling Family Shelters’ Lunchbox Program for kids aged 4-18. The Lunch Box program provides healthy lunches for over 50 kids ages 4-18 each and every day.

The work of the shelter is to help families get through the difficult immediate times, to provide a safe and secure environment for families while they get back on their feet. The average stay for families in the shelter is 6 to 8 months.

One of the biggest challenges that the Carling Family Shelter faces is keeping kids in their local schools while they are in the temporary shelter. The advocacy required to keep children in their school after they’ve become homeless and have been forced to move to a family shelter involves enormous effort.

Families have access to staff twenty-four hours a day to ensure their immediate needs are met and to obtain information and support as required. A Housing Support Worker assists families in obtaining housing, families also have access to on-site services such as a Nurse Practitioner, Children and Youth programming, VAW counseling, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, multi-cultural support services, and other services as required and needed.

It is pretty amazing to see how United Way Ottawa acts as the umbrella organization to so many programs.  The coordination of social services across agencies is a huge effort that they do wonderfully.

I hope United Way continues to reach out to the community and organizes many more tours so that we can continue to learn about the wonderful things they do in this city.

Stay tuned for the 3rd blog post about the “Seeing is Believing Tour” where I will share my experience at our next stop in the tour; the Boys and Girls Club.

CLICK HERE to read my previous post on the United Way “Seeing is Believing Tour”.

United Way: Seeing is Believing bus tour!

I found out that United Way Ottawa was organizing a “Seeing is Believing Tour” through Twitter.  The twitter invitation said that the tour was open to ALL of those with an interest in seeing positive change in the community and that it wasFREE.  From the description of the participants they were looking for I decided that I could be included in the “I care for the community I live in” category, so I quickly registered online and signed up to go on the bus tour!

I didn’t know anybody else who would be on the tour, but I had been looking for ways to approach United Way and offer volunteer for them, so what a better way to do this then at one of their events, right?

All that I knew before going on the actual tour was that a group of like minded people would be going on a bus tour to two community organizations where we would be able to see firsthand how United Way has helped change people’s lives – for the better. But I didn’t actually know which projects we would be touring.

On Wednesday, November 3rd I headed out to the United Way headquarters equipped with my camera and a whole lot of enthusiasm!  All the participants were very kind and friendly. Most were talking and typing on their smartphones throughout the tour. Twitter was flooded with updates from most of the participants who were using the hashtags #UWtweets.  We visited the Carling Family Shelter (formerly Bayshore Hotel) and the Boys and Girls Club on Pinecrest where we got really great guided tours of the facilites and learned how United Way Ottawa helps these organizations change the lives of so many people in our community.

Due to privacy issues we weren’t able to take photographs during the tour. So you’ll just have to get on the next“Seeing is Believing” bus tour and see for yourself. Please stay tuned for the following blog posts where I will write a detailed account of each of the facilities we visited.

Thank you United Way for the opportunity to get to know you better and congratulations to everyone involved in the organization of such a wonderful event! A special thanks to Beau’s beer for supporting United Way and giving us a chance to sample your brews after the tour was over; it was a perfect way to wrap up the day.

The holidays are coming up!

As I watched the snow flakes fall outside my kitchen window in Ottawa over Halloween weekend, I realized that I am not prepared yet!

When you grow up in Mexico it is not uncommon that you directly relate wearing winter coats and snow with Christmas.  So as soon as I see snow flakes, my mind automatically thinks about Christmas!  As I saw what my husband kept describing as “fluffy rain”, I realized that I am not prepared for Christmas yet! The plane tickets to visit the family for the holidays have been bought, but I seem to be behind in one area; I have not given any thought to holiday cards!

Regardless of your spiritual and religious views, December (for most people in this country) is a time for sharing gifts and good food with close family and friends. It is also a perfect time to share good news and send loved ones greetings.  It wasn’t too long ago that most of the holiday greeting cards were dropped off by the mailman. Sometimes they included a picture, always some stories and lots of love. Nowadays with electronic communication people are not necessarily sending physical cards through the mail, it seems that most are sending their love through the internet.

So I think we will go with the trend and send our best wishes through facebook, twitter, and e-mails, but somehow that doesn’t seem special enough to me.  I want to do something more, maybe upload a video on Youtube or create a cartoon with your own personalized message on www.xtranormal.com.  I guess it all depends on what I can convince husband to do!  So even though I am still not sure HOW we’ll be reminding our loved ones that we are thinking about them at Christmas time, I am sure that somehow we will.

Now if we can only get the right picture ……. more on that later!

The 10 things that I am thankful for…..

Thanksgiving  in Canada falls on 10-10-10 this year.  To mark the occassion, here is a list of 10 things that I am thankful for.

1. I am thankful that I live in a DEMOCRATIC country where I am FREE.

2. I am thankful for the HEALTH and SAFETY of my FAMILY and FRIENDS.

3. I am thankful for ROBERT, because we fall in love over and over again and for our first marriage ANNIVERSARY.

4. I am thankful for my new BROTHER IN LAW and welcome him to the family with open arms.

5. I am thankful for the fabulous MEDICAL CARE that I received earlier this year, and the SUPPORT from those around us when things got tough.

6. I am thankful for TECHNOLOGY which helps me keep in touch with friends and family who live far away.

7. I am thankful for my dear PARENTS who have always been there for me.

8. I am thankful for my SPIRITUALITY, FAITH and the INNER PEACE which keep me calm and strong.

9. I am thankful for the LOVE that I give and the love that I receive each and every day.

10. I thank GOD for LIFE.

P.S. – Thanks to @thecoolmomblog for the idea