Past Events

Inner City Pumpkin Patch Party, October 22, 2011

The Inner City Pumpkin Patch Party was put on by the Strathcona Community Center. The Single Mothers Breakthrough Program coordinator arranged for the single mothers and mentors to meet at the Community Center an hour before the event started so that they could get to know each others. They were served hot chocolate and sandwiches. Then they all walked over to the park and each child got a pumpkin to carve. There were different booths for pumpkin carving, face painting, cookie decorating. There was even Tim Horton’s coffee and tidbits. The children had a great time and the mothers got to enjoy watching them play while they connected with each other and the mentors.

Spring Gathering

On a beautiful Saturday May afternoon, almost 40 women from the Single Mother’s Breakthrough Group gathered together for fun, food, fellowship and an amazing presentation by motivational speaker Lola Tsai.

We met at Creekside Community Centre and everyone enjoyed the comfortable room itself with a balcony view of Science World, dragon boat racing on the water and the fact that sunshine “reigned” instead of the predicted rain!

The room was abuzz with energetic happy children playing with Razya and her daughter Nadia at one end and women connecting in friendship at the other. It was a wonderful way to connect mentors, Single Moms and children together.

Coffee and food in hand, we took our seats and Lola soothed our souls with calming thoughts about relaxation and enjoying life with a positive perspective. Lola had us share some affirming words with one another and conversation flowed easily with her icebreaker exercises helping us to learn more as we moved about the room talking with different women. Lola’s presentation was personal and professional at the same time.

The Spring Gathering definitely had a feel of celebration as laughter filled the air and friendships were renewed and new friendships blossomed. Lola had prints of her beautiful framed word pictures available as door prizes as well as prints for everyone.

It was a memorable afternoon for all involved.

Graduation Celebration for Group II

It is hard to believe that one whole year has gone by and we are already celebrating the graduation of the second group of single mothers from the Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program. It was a time to celebrate their accomplishments as well as to mingle with all those connected to the program.

Those attending included the single mothers, their children, friends and relatives, as well as Salvation Army Staff. Ayumi did a great job decorating the room in a festive manner with each table decorated in a color theme. Major Ken, Linda, Robbie, Stephen, Joseph, and Ming warmly welcomed the guests. Ruthy cooked a great meal and was the Master of Ceremony. She did a great job at both.

After a delicious dinner of Cordon Blue chicken, roasted asparagus, wild rice and so much more, the single mothers were given their certificates amidst applause and congratulations. They were also presented with flowers. The children had the option of staying with their mothers or joining in games and entertainment as the grown-up continued to share their experience of the program during the last year.

A high point of the evening was the rare opportunity for the single mothers and their mentors to share their stories. One mother told how the program had helped her when she felt lonely, hopeless and isolated. She said that when she joined the program she felt accepted, helped and encouraged by other single mothers and Salvation Army programs. The mother of one of the ladies talked about how she appreciated what The Salvation Army had offered her daughter and how she has seen positive changes in her daughter and her grandchildren as they went through the program.

Two of the single mothers could not make it to the graduation celebration because they had to work, which is the whole purpose of the program. Every single mother shared how she has achieved her goals and is in a better place because of the program. One mother went back to school; another was working towards upgrading her skills so that she could move towards something more satisfying. Others felt validated in their very valuable responsibilities of being good mothers.

One of the mentors said that when she joined the program she thought that she was going to share her own experience about being a single mother, until she realized the strength she saw in the mother she was mentoring.

Throughout the evening there was a sense of hope, as the single mothers and their children shared their new found friendships, which were nurtured over the last year and hopefully will continue long after the program is over for them.

We ended the evening with a prayer from Major Cathy and renewed promise for the future of all those who graduated, and gratefulness for God’s mercy and grace.

Christmas Party – December 10, 2010

This year’s Christmas celebration brought all three groups of single mothers (families from Groups I, II, and III) together. This was an opportunity for the single mothers from the different groups to get to know each other and exchange ideas and experiences as well as socialize with each other. Mentors also got to meet the single mothers and connect in a social setting.

The hall was set up with different venues around the room offering different activities for everyone to enjoy.

One of the many highlights of the evening was Joanie, our face painter who so graciously came last year willingly returning again and said it was an honor to do so. The children who came last year recognized her and were delighted that she remembered them. It was fun to see all the children have their faces painted with their favorite themes, one with flowers and butterflies, another with a crown like a princess; what a happy sight!

Every great Christmas party must include a visit from Santa Claus! Santa Claus and Mrs. Santa arrived right after dinner and made sure that every child got a Christmas gift.

To keep the children occupied, one of the mentors had a table made up for the children to work on Christmas crafts to take home. While the children had fun creating their keepsakes, it gave the mothers free time to socialize.

Another mentor donated ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, which each mother layered into a jar and took home. What a great and practical gift idea!

We had a draw for the women with gifts donated by Sugarlime jewelry, Eccotique Aveda Spa, The Unhero Boutique and Orb Clothing.

Everyone truly enjoyed themselves and it was a delightful way to celebrate the season together!

Summer Picnic

Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program definitely did not want to miss an opportunity to go for a picnic with the single mothers and their children. It was a time for the children to play in the sand, explore the creatures, great and small that habituated the waters.

One little 5 year old girl found a beautiful purple star fish and placed it a bucket full of sand and water for all to admire. She had a difficult time letting it go back to the water to join its own kind. Another little boy had collected a number of tiny crabs and engaged other children in watching them play and swim in his tray of sand and water.

The picnic took a lot of planning because we had to get all the families at the Fraser Street Salvation Army location by 11:00 am to load them up into a bus and head to Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby.

Telly and Randall went ahead of us to reserve a place on the beach, set up the gazebo and tents, and start preparing the food. Some car-pooled and others came by bus. Besides the single mothers and their children, we were joined by mentors and Salvation Army Staff.

Randall, Steve and Telly helped prepare a delicious barbeque of hot dogs, chicken burgers, beef burgers, coleslaw and potato salad, corn on the cob, water melon, cantaloupe and chocolate cake.

Everyone enjoyed the food, and ate till they were full. Fathima and Michal, our volunteer-mentors, helped serve the food and mingled with the mothers and their children.

There was a draw and Joseph made sure that each child got a summer toy to play with. There were sand pails, water guns, summer soft baseball bats, and tennis rackets – all very colourful and age appropriate.

We had planned some relay games but the children were so involved in exploring the beaches and playing together that it was difficult to get them away. Instead we followed their lead and watched them as they interacted in the way that children do, learning from them and appreciating them.

The mothers seemed to relax as they enjoyed the peaceful scenery and as they helped each other watch out for their children. The older children played with the younger ones and helped watch over them.

When it was time to leave, one child was overheard wondering if we would do this again. Even the older boys, who seem to get bored easily, made friends and admitted that they had a good time.

First Graduating Class: Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program

Graduation DinnerSpeeches

On June 18, 2010 we celebrated the graduation of the first group of single mothers from the Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program. It was a time to celebrate their successes as well as to mingle with all those connected to the program. Besides the single mothers, their children, their friends, some of the presenters as well as Salvation Army Staff were present. Ayumi did a great job decorating the room in a festive manner while Major Ken, Derik, Joseph, and Ming warmly welcomed the guests.

After a delicious dinner of glazed ham, scalloped potato and mixed vegetables was served, the single mothers were given their certificates amidst applauds and congratulations. They were also presented with flowers compliments of Mable Elmore, MLA of Vancouver-Kensington, and her assistant Kelly Read. The children were running around the hall until Ayumi, a Salvation Staff rounded them off and engaged them in games and entertainment as the grown-up continued to share their experience of the program during the last nine months.

A high point of the evening was the rare opportunity for the single mothers and their mentors to share their stories. One mother told of how the program had helped her when she felt lonely, hopeless and isolated. She said that when she joined the program she felt accepted and with the help and encouragement of her mentors she was surprised to find doors opening up for her and that she has now gone back to college. Another woman talked about how she was homeless for 7 months and how she went from a sense of hopelessness to being appreciated and loved. She said that the human kindness and the family atmosphere that she had experienced within the program have renewed her faith in others.

One of the single mothers could not make it but sent her testimonial which was read out to those present. She described how she had joined a Trades Works program through which she not only realized what she did not want to do, but also learned how to deal with her anxieties in the workplace and realized how appreciated she was both at her practicum site and among her classmates and teachers. Through the mentoring program she found support and learned new communication skills in setting boundaries and improving her relationships with her children.

One of the mentors told how she was “amazed” at how the single mother whom she mentored made it in raising two children and that it drew her respect.

Throughout the evening there was a sense of hope, as the single mothers and their children shared their new found friendships, which were nurtured over the last nine months and hopefully will continue long after the program is over for them.

Testimony from a Single Mother

The following testimony is from a participant in the Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program.

“When I first joined the program of the Salvation Army’s Single Mothers’ Breakthrough Program, I felt alone. I had no real support to help me cope, as well as no real foundation of parents’ guidance growing up.

So in retrospect I was clueless on how to solve problems and put things in to perspective when dealing with career and relationships or how to deal with finances and the creditors hounding me. Anxiety dominated my life and all I wanted to do, since I could remember, was run from it all…. As the program went on with its workshops, A blessing came my way just in time.

A workshop was presented that would change my life, Tradeworks Women’s Workshop.

It was carpentry based, assisted with clients’ interests in different trades but helped go the extra mile, offering short practicums in the area suited to each client. The program helped get free resources and certificates that are essential for employment, that I did receive.

I also learned a lot of things hands on, with power tools and different types of wood, as well as projects that aroused my artistic abilities, like making frames for my art work. The experience was good but it painted a clear picture that woodwork was not for me.

I went into this program in the hope that my focus on hairdressing was going to fit my personality best. Counselling was available, which in the end I used for my performance anxiety, for this practicum sent me in a tailspin. Arlene was the support I needed to believe in myself

My practicum came and went, not in workworking… but in a hairdressing salon. A week and a half was more than enough time to realize that my interest in the technical part of hairdressing wasn’t enough. Salon work did not complement my personality. I realized that I needed a calm environment rather than high energy, hectic, busy surroundings that would burn me out eventually.

It’s funny how we set up these high expectations of ourselves, not realizing ‘til experiencing them that they are wrong for us. Naturally I was hard on myself when it didn’t work out. That was probably pride.

It was disappointing at first, but acceptance helped me to realize it was another stepping stone to personal growth.

That was a great accomplishment but what made it hard was that everyone wanted me to stay—it felt good knowing that I’ll be missed.

This experience has given me confidence and self esteem that impacted other aspects in my life too. My career plan changed. My relationships are much improved, with many friends in arms reach.

I’m grateful for all the support that has made me the person I am today. I feel like I finally have control of my own destiny and can cope with whatever life hands me.”

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