As Fate Would Have It
By A Fellow Traveller, Adopt-A-Room Donor
Being able to contribute to this most worthy cause reminds me of just how fortunate I have been to have survived the long, difficult journey after leaving an abusive partner of twenty years, seriously depressed, and with no paid work experience, almost thirty years ago!
Had it not been for caring, dedicated individuals and organizations, I could well have found myself in the circumstances faced by the women who will soon call Cornerstone ‘home’. Now, ‘as fate would have it’, I just happen to live close by that beautiful new building, in my own ‘sanctuary’. It will fill me with joy and thanksgiving to greet my new neighbours.
My Sister Barbara Stewart: Her Gift to OthersBy Audrey Stewart
My sister Barbara's life can be summed up so simply - wife, mother, teacher. But, as her friend Caterina Edwards shows (see below), that summary misses so much more - the struggles, the joys, the grace, and the gifts to others. Reflecting on her life reminds me that every person is valuable. My contribution is in honour of this lesson.
By Caterina Edwards
Barbara Stewart’s life was full of accomplishment. During her long illness, her joy and kindness made family, friends and caregivers feel that taking care of her was an honour.
Barbara was exceptional from the start: blond, blue-eyed, the first white child born in Norman Wells, NWT. Her parents, William Stewart and Daphne Leake, were from Vancouver. Bill, a meteorologist, ran the weather station. Barbara’s sister, Audrey, arrived the next year.
Bill was soon transferred to Edmonton, where six-year-old Barbara fell ill with polio. She spent eight months in an iron lung. Just a year later, her father died suddenly from a hypersensitivity to penicillin. Surmounting these traumas, Barbara grew up resilient, practical and appreciative of life. She asked of every problem, “How can I make this situation as good as it can be?”
This attitude energized her life’s work to ensure that people with disabilities were included in all aspects of community life. Barbara graduated in special education at the University of Alberta and did graduate work at San Francisco State University. Her first job, in 1971, was as an itinerant teacher for low-vision students in Edmonton. Indignant that blind students were usually sent to other provinces, she helped set up a program in Edmonton for them and brought the children home. Later she helped teachers throughout northern Alberta develop educational plans for children with multiple handicaps.
In 1972, Barbara married Neil Roberts, a childhood friend who shared her positive spirit and who became a neurologist. They had three sons, Bryce, Malcolm and Matthew. When Bryce was diagnosed with autism, Barbara reinvigorated the Edmonton and Alberta autism societies and served for years as president of Autism Society Canada.
A gracious hostess, Barbara loved nice clothes, fine china and good wine. She supported CKUA and most other arts groups in Edmonton, and expressed her own artistic impulses in her beautiful garden. With her family Barbara travelled the world, hiking many a long trail. Even with post-polio syndrome, she summited Mount Kilimanjaro and finished the Inca Trail. On her last adventure, a trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2008, she snorkelled despite her frailty and the chemo port in her arm.
Barbara never lost interest in the people or events around her. On oxygen and barely able to speak, she insisted on being wheeled out to the garden to give advice on which trees needed trimming. At the end, Barbara was in her four-poster bed, surrounded by her family. She left all who loved her a model of how to live and die.
Women on Skis Supports New Cornerstone Housing for Women
By Louise Rachlis
Women enjoyed the sunshine for the first Women on Skis outing at Terry Fox facility January 14th.
Each year, as well as encouraging women to get out and enjoy winter, the Ottawa group Women on Skis donates funds related to women’s health issues. This year Women on Skis is donating to Cornerstone which provides emergency shelter and supportive housing for homeless women in Ottawa.
Now in its 28th consecutive year, the Women on Skis season begins with a ski lesson at Terry Fox facility at Mooney’s Bay, followed by outings on a diversity of trails for all levels of ski experience. The aim of the group is to encourage women of all levels to get out in the snow, to network with others who have similar interests and to experience some of the best cross-country trails in Canada.
Participants come from all across the Ottawa Region. “We have women from one end of Ottawa to the other, Kanata, Glebe, downtown, Orleans and we have had people from Stittsville to Russell and Greely,” says longtime organizer Gloria Rankin, who lives in Riverside Park South.
“It’s all about helping people,” says Rankin. “We like to help women learn to ski or improve their skiing, and in return they are helping with all the charities we have given to over the past 28 years with their registration fees. We have minimal expenses and all proceeds go to issues related to women's health in the Ottawa region.”
Women on Skis gave to Cornerstone last year, she says, “and when we heard about their building campaign we thought this would be a worthy cause. We have pledged $5,500 to their ‘adopt a room’ campaign which will equip a room in the new facility. This will take us a few years but it's a goal and a commitment.”
This article appeared originally in The Wrap section of the Ottawa Citizen
Donor Sally Cleary
Why did you decide to support A Journey of Hope Campaign?
I chose The Journey of Hope Cornerstone because I think providing permanent supportive housing vs. just temporary shelter makes much more sense and I particularly like knowing it will house some older women and offers a few accessible suites.
As children, my sisters and I were taught to share with those less fortunate. After we had gathered what we thought was a nice batch of toys and clothing our mother would look them over and say "that is a good start girls but now I want you to look again and add one or two of your favourite things." This was harder for us to do, but her lesson has stuck with me.
Mom always chose me to accompany her to make the annual Christmas deliveries to her three families and she had the same ones year after year. I learned at a young age about poverty—the look, the smell, the hardships. This I believe was likely the reason I have tried to help others when and where I can.
Why did you ask for help to reach your goal to furnish “Sally’s Room”?
It seems most people feel they must bring a gift to a birthday party even when asked for “Best Wishes Only”. I truly did not want any personal gifts so suggested to my family who were giving the party for me that they include a page explaining about The Journey of Hope Campaign and that I had pledged to adopt one room. If anyone would like to help me reach my goal I would be grateful. The response was positive, generous and many told me they were really happy to help.
The birthday party and especially the cake was a great idea. What made you think of that?
We had a cake decorated for our 50th wedding anniversary with two pictures on it: one was in black and white on our wedding day and the other a current colour photo. It was an interesting contrast: black and white & colour; young couple & old couple. Our guests found it an interesting focal point so I thought doing something similar for my birthday party might be a good idea and an easy way to show my guests an architect's drawing showing the layout of the building. They eyed it much more than they looked at the information I had displayed on an easel.
What do you think will change with the new building?
My hope is that with supported low rent accommodation 42 women will live a decent and more comfortable life and may even learn a job skill which I think will offer them a feeling of dignity and personal fulfillment.