Category : News
Jane and Nicole’s Story
Nicole is a Child Support Worker at the Second Stage Housing program, Wenda’s Place, and she is a vital player in the child support program. “My job is being calm,” she says. And it’s true. It can be very hectic at Wenda’s Place, and you can often see staff running up and down hallways helping women, dealing with property maintenance, answering the door, taking calls, and on, and on. There is always a storm of activity. When Nicole is working with children, however, she is in the eye of the storm, and it is calm there.
Wenda’s Place is a beautiful, clean, and calming space, with wood effect floors, cream-coloured walls and relaxing artwork on the walls (see it for yourself!). To you or me, it certainly looks like a calmer, quieter environment compared to what you might imagine an abusive one would be, but what does it look like to a child who might have only known a different kind of home environment? It is different, and it can be unsettling. Nicole explains that as a result, the child might have issues with regulating their emotions or expressing their feelings in a healthy way.
Mom, too, is in a new position. Whereas she was being controlled with violence and abuse before, now she is practicing agency over her life. But with that new agency can come new challenges. For example, she is now a single parent, and has to adapt to parenting under these different circumstances, in this new place.
“It didn’t matter what challenges we were facing, I knew that as a mom, I had to be happy.” says Jane, a mom who once stayed at Wenda’s Place with her two kids. “It’s tough, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle. I celebrated any move forward to show them that things are going to get better.”
The year that she came to Wenda’s Place was a turbulent one. She had relocated to Vancouver with her now ex-husband and their two children at the beginning of that year, not knowing anything about transition houses. By June, she could not take the abuse anymore and left. She and her children moved to Dixon House and after a month’s stay, they moved into to Wenda’s Place. All within a year of moving to a new city.
About her children Jane says: “My children were so frustrated and very scared. There was no way to live with him.” Separating from your partner or getting a divorce is one thing, she points out. “It’s different if the troublemaker is your father.”
When the family moved to Wenda’s Place, Nicole acted as a stable figure among the changes within the family’s life. “My children were struggling. It was so difficult. Nicole, I remember, decided to set a time for them to just play. Nicole and I, with two children, with cards, playing and modeling calm and stability. Then we could continue at home without Nicole.” Nicole also helped her apply for music lessons for her son so he could practice once a week. He did that for two years, and then he wanted to focus on sports.
She speaks with great pride about her son. When they lived at Wenda’s Place, all three of them were students, and she was a busy single mother student, constantly feeling guilty about the time she had to invest in work and school and thinking her children are still young and still need her. Although she made an effort to spend time with them every night, her son—then a young teenager—saw her working hard, studying, not having a lot of time to play with them, and he asked, “Is it okay if I just finish high school and work in a coffee shop somewhere?” At the time, Jane —ever a supportive mother—told him, “Of course. Don’t think about it. Don’t stress about it. Of course you can, if you want to, if you’re okay with the income.” To the young man, minimum wage seemed like a lot, so of course he was okay with it.
“Last year,” she says, smiling widely, “he came to me and asked, ‘How long do I have to study to become a doctor?’ He was challenging me!” Here, Jane is referencing her own budding career in the medical field. “He has a whole plan. He’s going to join a sports team, live in a dorm, get a scholarship. He’s planning and preparing for medical school.”
As she tells her story, Jane exudes confidence and calm. She has the air of a woman who knows what she is doing. But she points out, “If there was no support like the kind I got at Wenda’s Place, it would be very difficult to free myself and regain my dignity. It would be very difficult to support myself. When I came to Dixon, I was so frustrated and scared. I had $10 in my purse. I had to pay $7.50 just to get on a bus for three people. What would I do otherwise, if there was no support? How many days could I have been homeless with two children?”
Jane and her children have come such a long way since having to ask those questions of themselves. We at Dixon know that housing, food, and clothing are just the first steps to helping a woman live freely and independently, to break the cycle of abuse for herself and her children. Jane’s decision to leave her ex was one of incredible bravery and resilience, and it is no small task, but it was only the beginning. Nicole and the child support program were there for her family to help them continue looking forward as they rebuilt their lives.
Help keep the child support program running at Dixon Transition Society.
By making a financial contribution to the child support program, you show women like Jane and her children that you believe their tomorrow is just as important as their today.
Today, there are other children living at Wenda’s Place and Dixon House. They are living in a new home, very different from their old ones. They are probably attending a new school. Their moms are there, but they probably are aware that Mom has challenges of her own to deal with.
They might be worried. They might be sad. They might be angry. Today, the child support program is there to help them heal. It is also there to help them with finding piano lessons, help with homework, or even just having a fun outdoor space to play with other kids. Today, the child support program helps ensure a tomorrow of possibility, where they can realize their potential. Most importantly, the child support program helps create a tomorrow—a life—free of abuse.
Today, the child support program needs your donation so it can still be here tomorrow. Your donation will allow our Child Support Workers to continue providing healing, fun and educational workshops and activities. Your donation ensures that a Child Support Worker will stay at Dixon to be a model of calm and stability during a challenging period in a child’s life. You can help end the cycle of violence for a family today. Invest in the future and donate to Dixon Transition Society.