Guest blogger Libby Ward, our Local Coordinator for Norfolk County, Ontario, writes about her childhood experience staying in a shelter with her family, and why she decided to give back to her community as a volunteer for The Shoebox Project years later.
Here is an excerpt from Libby’s blog, The Babbling Dabbler, or read the full article here.
I am beyond blessed to have a home to come back to at the end of the day that makes me feel warm and loved- not frightened and afraid. As a wife, and a mother my heart is full to brim with the love I receive from my family on a day-to-day basis. I know what to expect from those around me every day and they know what to expect from me. I am respected by my family and I respect them. Not every woman has that luxury.
There are women around us who are struggling in this very moment. Women who are afraid to tell their husbands they made a mistake. Women who are ashamed of the lunches they send their children to school with. Women who have to lie to their children to keep them safe. Women who have been victims of emotional, physical and psychological abuse. Women who are told they are fat, unworthy, and not good enough. There are women in your city who feel they are failing everyone around them. There are women who have been handed a really crappy deck of cards in life.
Lucky for me, the abuse and poverty I endured as a child and teen is a far off memory that I joke about with my friends sometimes. Stories they can’t believe are true. But for these women, their lives are no joke. It is tremendously difficult to see an end to the misery they face every day.
Some of these women have to stay in shelters at some point or another-either by themselves, or with their children. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult thing for them to do. They are displaced from their families. Often, they have nowhere else to go. They have no support group. They have no means to help themselves. They have lost their homes, lost their jobs, lost their confidence. Sometimes, they are in hiding from those who pose a danger to them.
I never imagined that I would shop at The Real Canadian Superstore, never mind go to the checkout without first calculating my total to see if my card would decline or not. I never thought that I would get gas without looking at the price. I never thought that I would own my own home. I never thought that I would go on a vacation. I never thought that I would look forward to going home because that is where I feel most comfortable and most loved. My home is my biggest blessing, and not the wood and shingles, but the people in it.
I’m not rich. I’m “middle class”, and if you’re reading this than maybe you are too. That means you probably work, you probably have a car, you probably go on vacation sometimes, and you probably don’t visit foodbanks unless you are donating. You probably wonder what to get your parents for Christmas because they usually buy what they want or need, and you probably set limits on your kids gifts because you don’t want them to grow up to be spoiled.
You might be wondering why I’ve shared all of this. It’s because I wanted to share with you why I am personally interested in what I am doing. My personal experiences have shaped my passion. I’ve reached a time in my life I thought might never come. A time of stability, a time of ability. I am able to help those around me, and so I will do that because I too have been helped along in my journey.
I want to see women around me who are struggling in different areas of their lives reach their fullest potential. I want them to know how incredibly valuable they are- to their families, to their communities, and to themselves. I want them to know they are loved.
Thank you Libby, for sharing your story. The Shoebox Project is so grateful to all of our passionate volunteers who give countless hours and tremendous energy to provide strength, joy and hope to local women in need. Together, we can build stronger, safer and more supportive communities for women.
Lesley Hendry - Executive Director