One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered…Michael J. Fox

Across the table from me is a slim, petite framed woman who has endured untold suffering over her adult lifetime. By now, you would think she would want to give up but stubbornly she refuses. Her name is Wendy and she was born 60 years ago as the youngest of 5 children in Laval, Quebec. Her Dad was an inspector for Canadian National Railway and her Mom was a homemaker. Her childhood was magical, filled with innocence and joy. She explains that it was the best time of her life and she follows with “Thank goodness because the rest of it really wasn’t.”

Wendy was introduced to Alain by another couple when she was just a teenager. She said she was very shy and awkward and had very little experience with dating. Alain brought her out of her shell and soon she was smitten with the young, handsome French Canadian. After very little time they were married. Soon afterward the first of her five children was born.

Alain was a Stationary Engineer by trade but had increasing difficulty getting along with others and it was really showing in his work life. He bounced from job to job in Quebec because his growing animosity towards his co-workers was getting the best of him. He had a buildup of anger that would not go away.   Their home life was bending under the strain of his anger and he frequently abused Wendy and the children often over seemingly insignificant things. By this time there were 3 children in the family and although Wendy knew she was not happy she felt for the sake of the children she could not leave. She had no money and no hope.

One day Alain announced that the family was moving to Ontario where he thought he could make a clean break and start over. He chose a town in the Ottawa Valley and quickly landed a job but his demons followed him. By this time their family had grown to 5 children and the abuse only escalated. Wendy said she actually considered suicide as a means of escape. Her life was tortuous and she experienced a growing depression. Wendy knew something had to be done. She fled the marriage with the three youngest children in tow. Her two oldest children were now old enough to live on their own and with the help of social assistance she attended school and worked at part time jobs sewing and cleaning houses to pay for the rent and food for the family. It was hard but she and her children no longer had to suffer from the constant violence and emotional berating from Alain.

After several years Wendy decided to try her luck at moving to Ottawa. Her children were all grown and had left home and she thought the city might offer her more opportunities for work. This was not the case. Work did not come easily and what work she found paid very little. Wendy resorted to sleeping in the staff locker room of her employer because she could not afford a room in a rooming house on the low wages she was making.

computerThat was when a friend told her about Shepherds of Good Hope and the Outreach Emergency Shelter for Women. Wendy said it was a God Send. She felt so fortunate to have a bed to sleep in and laundry facilities so that she can have clean clothes at work each day. She also has access to computers to look for better job prospects. The staff are very kind to her and she can really connect to the other women around her and begin to make friends. She has had the opportunity to finally take care of herself and with the help of the staff she was connected to a doctor who is treating her for an ailment that had been plaguing her for years. She is more relaxed and is eating well and her mood is very much improved. Wendy continues to work but is always looking for something that might pay higher wages so when she is ready she can find a more permanent home for herself. Until then, the staff at Shepherds of Good Hope are arranging for her to take training sessions that will improve her skillset. The housing manager is scouting for more permanent housing for her and her case manager is connecting her to various other services in the community.

Wendy has helped to show that women would benefit from the Worker Dorm Program and a pilot project for women was launched July 1st, 2014. The Men’s Worker Dorm Program has to-date achieved a 100 percent success rate. The men have been able to find and keep employment and more permanent housing in the community.

Wendy considers herself to be very fortunate. She knows that she is safe and her needs are being taken care of. She is being encouraged to stay positive and is receiving assistance for everything from reconnecting with family members to job training and job hunting. Wendy is very grateful to Shepherds of Good Hope because without our assistance she believes her life would be very different.

Would you like to help a woman like Wendy learn new life and job skills?  Please click HERE