Success Stories

As an organization, we know that success comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s big and flashy, but often it’s quiet and subtle.

Often our biggest successes are the result of thousands of small acts of kindness that, when strung together, act as lifelines for the people who need them the most.

Here are some of the small things that we do that have a big impact on our clients’ lives.

Cleaning Up at Cammy LaFleur

“We really do respect the people who access our services, and we want them to feel cared for.

If somebody says I need a shower you try to find a way to help them shower.

Personal hygiene is a basic human right.” 

 Sarah Lillemo, Harm Reduction Program Coordinator, Cammy LaFleur Outreach Program

 

Many of us take showering and doing laundry for granted. We never consider how difficult and dehumanizing it must be to know you’re dirty and don’t have access to the means to clean yourself and your clothing.

This constant unmet need (for personal hygiene) can have devastating impacts on the physical and mental health of people who are homeless. According to a study by New York University, “lacking access to a shower is one of the more humiliating aspects of being homeless,” and homelesshub.ca says that the unhygienic conditions faced by people who are experiencing homelessness exacerbate (and/or create) a host of health conditions.

That’s why our shower and laundry programs at Cammy LaFleur are so important! Our laundry program provides vouchers for a local laundry mat (to those who are living rough), and our popular biweekly shower program provides clients with hot showers and hygiene items.

What’s more, we do everything in our power to help clients who face hygiene concerns outside of program hours.  We know that people can’t always predict when they need a shower. They may be recovering from a foodborne illness, or menstruating, or they could have been forced to sleep or rest somewhere unclean. That’s why our staff are committed to being flexible whenever possible. As Harm Reduction Program Coordinator Sarah Lillemo says, when a client has an emergency outside of Shower Program hours, “we always do our best to make it happen somehow, and we don’t ask too many questions.”

 

Daily Inspiration at the Amalgamated Shelter

“To see the look of Hope on their face when they read a quote, or when they’re so proud they read it aloud, is amazing.”

Kelly Denis, Site Manager, Amalgamated Shelter

 

By the time our clients get to our shelters, they’ve usually faced unimaginable adversity and trauma. Sometimes this can leave them feeling depressed and disheartened about life. From that emotional setpoint, it can be very difficult for them to take the steps necessary to build a better future for themselves. That’s why one of the most important things we offer our clients is the reminder that a better life is possible and that they have what it takes to make it happen. From that place of empowerment, we provide them with the support and tools they need to move towards their goals.

Saying that, it’s no surprise that one of the most popular services we offer at our Amalgamated Shelter in Vernon is motivational quotes.  Every day, the Site Manager, Kelly Denis, prints out 40 motivational sayings and places them in a basket. Shelter residents are then given the opportunity to pick one for themselves or give one to another resident.

The tiny pieces of paper with motivational sayings go quickly. Within hours the basket is empty, and our residents’ hearts are full of inspiration and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Connecting People to Their Roots at Blair Apartments

Nothing establishes a sense of home and family better than fresh, wholesome food. There is added value when it has been grown together and enjoyed as a community.”

Shelley Kiefiuk, Director of Housing

 

One of the most common reasons that people cycle back into homelessness is that they feel isolated. This is because people experiencing homelessness tend to have social circles populated with other people experiencing homelessness, and when they obtain housing, they often lose these social circles.

That’s why Turning Points’ housing programs are designed to help people build new social circles and connect them to their communities in new ways.

One of the best examples of this is our Gardening Program at Blair Apartments. This program is designed to build community through gardening. Residents plant vegetables, tend to them, harvest them and host BBQs with the bounty.

All that time spent gardening together is community building, and as a result, the garden has become a safe space where residents come to relax and tell stories about their families and their youth.

Virtual Eats at Cammy Lafleur

“Breaking bread together is important because it can break down barriers and bring people together. I’ve been amazed by how much sharing a meal (even virtually) can create a casual, carefree atmosphere.”

Sarah Lillemo, Harm Reduction Program Coordinator, Cammy LaFleur Outreach Program

 

Like many organizations, Turning Points had to make changes to our programming when the pandemic hit.  We implemented COVID-19 safety protocols at all of our properties and moved some of our programs online.

We’ve faced numerous challenges throughout this process, but we’ve learnt some valuable lessons along the way. One of those lessons is that sometimes it’s the small touches that make the biggest difference.

For example, when our HIV support group moved online, we struggled to cultivate the supportive, community-like atmosphere online that we’d had offline, but we found a simple (age-old) solution – food.

The key to building connection and community was to break bread together – albeit virtually.

So now, participants send their food orders to Turning Points’ staff, and we order, pay for their food, and arrange to have it delivered right before the meeting.

Sometimes the participants all order the same meal, sometimes they order different dishes, but either way, this time spent eating together has become an important connection point that has brought the group closer.