August 29, 2023

Coming up to the end of the first month of being open, we thought you might be wondering how it’s going.

Well, it’s amazing!

The stories coming out of Grace Gardens are so heart warming that we wanted to share just a few of them with you.

To give you some context, the folks that live at Grace Gardens have been experiencing chronic homelessness and housing instability for most of their lives, the average reported experience is 8 years with some folks first experience being between the ages of 13-15 years old. While homelessness has its obvious challenges, coming inside and becoming a lease holder is also a significant adjustment.

Residents are supported 24/7 by Stepping Stone Residential support workers. The staff have done a phenomenal job of helping tenants settle in and assisting them with the adjustment period as well as supporting them beyond “just surviving” and helping them recognize areas they can thrive. There is also additional weekday support from our mental health nurse and housing stability worker. Our community partners from CMHA, Homewood, SOAHAC, Stonehenge, DSO, GCHC, and healthcare workers from Paramed also can be found supporting our tenants onsite throughout the week depending on the individualized support plans.

One of the tenant’s expressed their feelings of finally being home by telling staff “I’m looking forward to having a place to be that people want me to be”.

Another tenant revels in the comfort of a new power lift sofa chair and the luxury of watching their cherished Dukes of Hazzard reruns in a clean and safe environment.

Another tenant commented on how cool it was that they could finally be in control of their own coffee pot and make coffee whenever they want. Some of our new friends feel safe, worthy, and empowered for the first time in years.

Newly purchased bicycles have found secure storage, adorable feline companions have found new homes, and shared coffee moments in the common room have become cherished rituals. Laughter fills the air as funny videos grace the TV screen, and stories of past struggles and present triumphs are exchanged. Bonds have formed, friendships have blossomed, and past connections have rekindled.

With our tenants spanning ages from 26 to 71, we’ve been privileged to witness heartwarming bonds bridging generations. A unique friendship has developed between our youngest and oldest resident, the daily trip to Tim Hortons or the local store to assist their senior neighbor in fetching coffee or groceries stand as a testament to the compassionate spirit of our tenants. Mutual support comes in all shapes in sizes from a shared cup of coffee, a bowl of macaroni salad, lending a smoke here or there or neighbours helping each other out when mental health and addiction symptoms are present.  Hearing laughs, seeing the fist bumps, and being greeted by a warm smile and “good morning” from tenants each and every day makes this whole project so rewarding.

We have had our ups and downs since moving in, but we have been relishing in the beauty and joy of it all. Sticking with each other during struggles and upholding boundaries, responsibility and accountability are all what helps to make relationships flourish and is where resiliency and growth are born. We know that recovery is not a linear or easy process but the outcome of providing people with a safe and supportive place to live and community to thrive in is SO worth it!

As we eagerly await the arrival of our final few tenants in the coming months, we’re excited to see the camaraderie and community spirit continue to flourish. With the approaching cooler weather, we look forward to providing warmth and security to those who have been without it for far too long. Discussions and plans for the upcoming holiday season are already filling us with anticipation, as we envision the creation and sharing of precious memories in this newfound home.

Thank you for being part of the Grace Gardens journey. Your support and encouragement have made ALL of this possible. Together, we’re sowing the seeds of transformation, compassion, and resilience.

With gratitude,

Stepping Stone Team


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