United Way receives positive testimonials
RENFREW COUNTY – Each year, Renfrew County United Way funds a range of charities that address education, income and health needs in the area.
From 2017 to 2018, the United Way has funded 11 local agencies that include the Boys and Girls Club of Pembroke, North Renfrew Family Services, Petawawa Military Family Resources Centre, Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre and The Grind Coffee House among others.
By funding those charitable agencies, thousands of vulnerable individuals and families receive the support that they need in order to cope with a range of needs and improve upon their well-being.
Every so often, the United Way receives testimonials from individuals who are eager to share their positive experiences and express gratitude towards the United Way for funding those programs.
One of those testimonials comes from local women who participate in the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre’s pre and post-natal nutrition program.
Operating every Tuesday at St. Francis of Assisi Church at Garrison Petawawa, the program provides necessary support systems to new and expectant mothers. The program is particularly helpful towards military women who are facing the stressful reality of experiencing pregnancy alone, due to their partners being deployed with the military.
“It’s tough for women to come up here and go through a pregnancy with little or no support systems in place,” says program facilitator Holly Cardiff. “They’ve left friends and family behind. They may or may not have their husbands with them for some or all of the time. Having a child is a community experience. You need people around you.”
With her husband being away during the majority of her pregnancy, one of the participants expressed that the program provided her with necessary support and mental relief.
“It was really, really hard,” said Christine. “Hanging out with other pregnant women and new moms saved my sanity.”
Other women emphasize the program is a lifeline. They might have had a colicky baby, trouble with nursing or feelings of sadness. Talking it out with other mothers experiencing the same issues helped soothed their frayed nerves.
The program also brings in community guest professionals who offer advice on pre- and post- natal nutrition, for example, help with breastfeeding or sleep deprivation.
Cardiff commented that lifelong friendships are forged at the program.
“These women support each other before, during and after pregnancy. It’s a bond that lasts forever,” she said.
Another testimonial comes from a single mother who greatly benefited from the services provided to her at The Parent Cafe.
After starting as a pilot project three years ago at the Killaloe Community Resource Centre, The Parent Cafe is now an essential service for many families and children in vulnerable situations.
“I was having a hard time raising Kristian on my own,” said Courtney, a single mother who depended on The Parent Cafe to help her four-year-old son adjust to kindergarten. “And I knew he would have trouble adjusting to school. He doesn’t sit still for a second. But then I met Kim Groskleg from the Parent Café and she encouraged me to come to one of their sessions.”
Last year, Parent Cafés helped almost 100 children, parents, caregivers and grandparents.
“Helping people improve their parenting skills is important,” said Bill Smith, executive director of the Killaloe Community Resource Centre. “Getting to kids early, and teaching them how to share and get along with other kids has a huge impact on their success at school.”
“And funding from United Way gives us that extra funding we need to tailor our programs to accommodate the needs of special people.”