Samaritan House, Barrie, ON

The Kennedy Family’s Story by Kerry Ploughman, Executive Director

Samaritan House is dedicated to helping women and children stabilize their lives after experiencing abusive situations. Unlike a shelter, we provide longer term, move in ready housing with program work and supports to help families recover from their trauma and learn how to recognize and avoid these types of situations in the future. We also work on safety plans, goal setting, planning, life skills, job search and prep., and/or further education. All of this is unique to each clients needs and long-term goals. Once they are ready to leave our housing, which is usually 9 – 18 months later, we work to secure permanent housing for them and their family. None of this can be done without the generous donations that help us run our housing and programs. 

I have included a letter from a client who recently moved from our housing into permanent housing. This client stayed approx. 3 years as it was extended due to covid. Here is the letter we received from her.

“I have had the privilege of being a resident in one of the Samaritan House transitional homes. They were able to provide myself and three children fully furnished accommodations. I was out of the woman’s shelter having stayed my allotted time there due to a very unsafe living situation and toxic relationship. It was an amazing! They had all the basic set up that anyone would need to get by when having to restart with nothing. It provided a huge relief of the burden that was ahead when it seemed like I was going to be homeless and lose my children. I will never be able to repay the kindness and understanding of my situation that they offered as well as extra supports. They assisted with Christmas and groceries as needed. Throughout the pandemic I was provided cleaning supplies. My children and I cannot thank you guys enough for all the support and help you have provided to our family while we awaited our long-term housing.
Thank-you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless all those who have helped support this amazing program.

Sincerely the Kennedy family ❤️

It is always wonderful to see family move on with the tools they need to go forward. These types of letters would not be possible without the support given to Samaritan House. We cannot thank Faithworks enough for the continued support of Samaritan House over the years. Our agency is not large, our numbers are not large, however the work we do ensures permanent stability once our client leave our program. Our clients do not recycle through the system. They leave to jobs, further education, permanent housing, with the knowledge of how to live in a healthy relationship and the skillsets to live self-sufficiently.

Thank you Faithworks for your part in our clients’ lives.

Bob’s Story

This article from our ministry partner, the Orillia Christian Centre ‘The Lighthouse’, is an example of the work that your donation to FaithWorks supports.

Picture: L-R Peter Mentis, Bob Nash, Lynn Thomas in the new kitchen

Bob’s Story – by Lynn Thomas, Development and Communications Manager

Bob has been a wonderful asset to our team.

Bob Nash is a cook by trade and in heart.  When the pandemic hit, he lost his job at Casino Rama as the hospitality industry closed down everywhere. He decided to seek work in trades and began to work as a painter. Bob worked with the crew who were contracted to paint the new Lighthouse Community Services facility in Orillia.

While painting the building, Bob observed the beautiful commercial kitchen being constructed. He said to himself, “I would LOVE to work in a kitchen like that!”  He asked the project manager who he should talk to about applying for a job.  Bob applied and was hired by ‘The Lighthouse’ once the new facility opened in July 2021. 

Bob’s salary is being supplemented with funding from FaithWorks. He is thankful to work for an organization that feeds vulnerable, homeless and food insecure people in Orillia.

‘The Lighthouse’ has faced an increased need and demand for meals in the community as it is the only daily community meal program in Orillia.  ‘The Lighthouse’ distributed over 54,000 meals to the community in 2021 through feeding the shelter participants, assisting families in need and distributing bagged lunches outdoors as the regional health unit would not allow indoor dining with the exception of our shelter participants.

Evon and the Class of 2025

Evon had big dreams for grade 7. Finally getting to middle school where you can play sports. Unfortunately, Evon started grade 7 the fall of 2019 when strike action halted all extra curricular activities. Normally, just a blip in a school career, the strike ended just in time for the pandemic to begin. Eighteen months of virtual or limited in-person classes and definitely no sports.

Evon enters grade 9; an adventure – new school, new opportunities for friends, and a bit of fear for being in a large school as the youngest. Academic pressures are real. Students do better academically when they are involved in activities outside of the classroom. The 18 months of the pandemic were a more significant percentage of life for a young person than for an adult. While the pandemic has affected everyone, there is a great question of how it will impact young people like Evon for years to come. The Class of 2025 really missed out on middle school.

Connecting with grade 9s like Evon is a strategic part of outreach each year at The Dam. If the drop-in can become a known, safe space at the start of their high school journey, it will be a place to turn to in the good days and the bad ones.

Evon “Did I tell you my 21-year old (HIV) client died of cancer?

The following article from the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care is an example of the work that your donation to FaithWorks supports.

A Report from Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care highlighting Lena Soje, HIV Program Manager

Our HIV program manager observes: “Everyone assumes that people with HIV/AIDS are fine because they have access to antiviral medication, but that’s not the case for everyone.… Did I tell you my 21-year old client died of cancer?”

In this case, the HIV diagnostician at the hospital initially mistook new symptoms for COVID. Four days after cancer was identified, the young man died…. While COVID dominates attention and HIV makes patients medically vulnerable, working on the frontlines as a social worker, case manager, counsellor and patient advocate can be heartbreaking and faith-stretching: “You ask and pray, can this be avoided? Could the cancer have been found sooner and treated? Could we do more to help people live with HIV/AIDS?”

Our program manager also observes new levels of client anxiety, fear, and depression. Clients who experienced depression before, now have “extreme depression” since COVID isolation, and are requesting additional one-on-one counselling supports. Some clients have lost their jobs due to COVID. Others have refused to work or felt unsafe working due to COVID. It adds a complicating strain – for clients living with HIV, and for frontline workers providing hospice supports.

With the stress of COVID, one client’s HIV/AIDS symptom management is worse than ever: she has been hospitalized more during this past year, than years ago when her HIV complications led to organ failure, requiring invasive medical treatments and a transplant. Last year, after her child brought the COVID virus home from school, this mom was infected and thankfully survived. Today, still unable to work, she and her palliative husband are doing their best to raise children. She testifies: “The PAC women’s group is the only thing that keeps me going. This group and my faith. The support and prayers I receive from others who know what I am going through, what I am feeling, my fear … knowing I can share everything, and not be judged … that there are people who I can call on to pray with me.”

Our program manager aims to meet each person’s unique needs by using a combination of tools: cognitive behavioural therapy, narrative therapy, facilitated relationship mediation, group or individual counselling, referrals for medical respite, plus a faith-based perspective depending on the client. The Christ-centred, faith-building elements are invaluable for many clients: “They can’t pray in other HIV support groups. They can’t pray about HIV within their church circles for fear of stigma / judgement.”

Looking forward, our frontline leader speaks life and affirmation, with an abundance of faith that outreach, education, advocacy, and hospice care supports will continue to meet this group and others at their place of need.

We all appreciate the generous resources and prayers through FaithWorks.

God bless you for your support.