For those of you on our mailing list, we were so pleased to be able to send you our most recent letter partially written by a young man named Ozzy who lived here for several years as a youth. If you didn’t see it, please read below. If you wish to join our mailing list, please contact: [email protected].
“I was about 10 or 11 years old when we arrived. I didn’t know we were in a shelter – I just thought we were in our new home. We had been living in shelters, motels, friends’ places, but this place felt different, ‘homier’. It didn’t look or smell like a shelter, and there was even a basketball net in the courtyard. I knew why we were living here, and I felt really safe here. There were other kids my age too, whom I became friends with and I would invite my friends over to play. I never felt embarrassed – it just felt normal.” -Ozzy
While ‘normal’ does not seem to exist in 2020, there are still many young children living in shelters across the country, and who’s lives will be shaped by their experiences in those shelters.
Thanks to your continued caring and generosity, Harmony House is able to offer the young people who live with us some peace, hope, and a community of caring adults as they work through the trauma they have experienced.
Now, these smallest survivors have to shoulder a global pandemic as well!
Your gifts have helped us pivot our services and programs during the most devastating health disaster in living history. Thanks to you, we were able to install FREE WiFi in every unit, purchase essential items like grocery gift cards, Personal Protective Equipment and even provide online therapy when we couldn’t be with residents in person. Harmony House invested heavily in mental health supports, as we watched family’s fragile reserves being eaten away by social distancing. We were determined to ensure that no one felt alone during their isolation.
Our staff have been champions. Each and every day they show up, don their PPE, and work tirelessly to ensure the residents are safe, and provide any support a family might need.
“Overall, the kindness of staff was what I remember the most. The other shelter I can’t remember any of the staffs’ names. Openness and honesty of staff really made me feel at home. I also think it helped me to have one-on-one time with the outreach worker; to come in and speak to her and have a safe space to confide in someone. She and I went through a LOT together, she really understood me and made me feel heard. I still visit with her now. We would have what I call ‘Ted Talks’ all the time about anything and everything; contraceptives, drug use, even dating! I could always be myself and when I was going through dark times, I knew the staff would not only help me, but teach me how to help myself – I feel really grateful to them and to Harmony House.”
Ozzy lived here twice, with his mom and brothers, for a total of 3 years – that is a lot of memories and experiences for a young boy. Now as a young adult, he returns to the house to volunteer his time, whether it’s moving out old furniture, helping with special projects or just hanging out with staff and residents. He finished high school, is now working full-time, and planning his next steps in life. He has so many options and such a bright future – and this is because you took the time to care and to give. He is one of many people in our community who have experienced violence, but what he remembers most is your compassion!
“I have so many memories of being here; my 1st Christmas Party and seeing ‘Santa’ and getting gifts was really cool! In the summers, the staff took us to a beach in Quebec. We had never been to a lake and had a picnic before. That was a day where we didn’t have to think about being in a shelter, we were just people at a lake. Halloween parties were always fun, and everyone dressed up. Once we went on a field trip to Saunders Farm, that was really exciting and it felt good to laugh at something.”
There have been many amazing children like Ozzy who have lived here and will continue to in the future. Your donation provides kids security, food and shelter, it funds programming and most importantly; it breaks the cycle of violence.
“I am really wanting to come back and to give back to Harmony House. I want to teach other kids about my experiences and hopefully mentor them. I also, interestingly enough, used to think that staff had a relatively easy job, they just talk to people and that’s it. Now coming back as an adult, I understand how hard their job is. I didn’t realize it before but now I see it. They were very good at making things look like sunshine and rainbows when really there was so much hard stuff and trauma that people were dealing with.
I also realize how much we needed those donations and that Harmony House didn’t just ‘pay’ for all the stuff like food bank or gifts or all the outings we had. As a child who really grew and felt safe there, I want to personally say a big thank you to all those people who gave and who helped me become who I am today, I am really grateful!”
PS – the staff, board and volunteers at Harmony House wish you all well during this challenging time and if YOU need us, please reach out anytime! We are stronger together.