Ever since I can remember, my father was abusive. He never smiled. He was either quiet, angry or violent. I guess deep down I knew my home situation wasn’t ethical, but I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal.
My siblings taught me to be unseen and unheard, but on one particularly bad day I couldn’t hide the bruises or ignore the truth anymore.
I was in foster care for a while, then lived with friends til I could work and live on my own. My siblings ran away from home. By 17 my sister was living with a guy and already had a child.
I remember this one Christmas…I was living in an old house in Osborne Village, working two jobs and going to the U of W full-time when I heard from her. She’d had to leave an abusive relationship and was on her way to a homeless shelter! Not a great situation for a young mother and an autistic child. My nephew was very upset, as you can imagine. “How is Santa going to know where to find us?” he said. I told them they could stay with me.
It wasn’t long before the money ran out. Thankfully I discovered a small scholarship from Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg. That basically saved us. More than the money, I got the support and encouragement I needed to keep going.
I graduated! I’ve got my degree and a hopeful future. But I was lucky. I had friends. I had agencies like the Boys and Girls Club. And I had people like you, supporting these programs and dozens like them, by giving to United Way.
I know you’ve given in the past. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to donate again this holiday season.