This past June marks my eighth year living in the Russell Heights community. When I first arrived in Russell, I had three children aged 15 months, 3 years, 4 years and baby number four was due in a few weeks. I was hesitant to get to know my neighbors and reach out to the resources at the Russell Heights Community House. Soon after the arrival of my fourth child, I reached out to the community and was glad to have the support I received. The first program I ever got involved with at Russell Heights was the Snack & Chat program for moms and their babies. I had lunch and gained support from other moms in the community and a nurse they had on hand to answer my many questions, about my new baby and about my other children as well.

It was at the Snack & Chat program that I met a staff member who was a single mom putting herself through university. After many late nights and discussions with staff and community members, I felt inspired and motivated enough to apply for the Social Services Worker program at Algonquin College. I was very excited when I was accepted! Shortly before I graduated it was suggested by another staff member at Russell Heights that I might give some thought to running for the Russell Heights Community House Board. It didn’t take me long to conclude that the staff, the community house and strong members of the community were what touched my life. I decided to join the Russell Heights Community House Board as Secretary.

As my children got older they participated in the Summer Day Camp, which allowed them the chance to grow and gain more confidence in themselves as they prepared for what challenges they would face next in their lives. Summer Day Camp allowed me the time I needed to explore my education and allowed my children to explore their talents and make new friends at the same time.

Although my children are older now, they still use the Russell Heights Community House for help with their homework and are eager to join in the many youth programs that the house offers. I served on the Russell Heights Community House Board for nearly three years. This past March I joined the Tenant Association as the Secretary.

I graduated from the Social Services Worker program at Algonquin College in 2006 and applied to Carleton University to the Bachelor of Arts program with a major in Psychology. My dream came true and on June 12th of this year I graduated from Carleton University with my degree. My four children are now aged 8, 9, 11 and 12. I am currently working part time for the City of Ottawa as the coordinator for the Woman Alive fitness program. As well, I am pursuing my dream of becoming a freelance writer. It was just last week that my dreams got one step closer when I got a letter from a national literary magazine accepting my work for publication. I look forward to seeing MY name in print this fall.

My children and I appreciate the support, programs and opportunities that Russell Heights has provided us. The community house, programs and staff, as well as strong community members have played a vital role in my achievements and providing a better life for me and my children. The community and programs were what made my tomorrow a better one. Thanks to my children for all their support and to everyone in the community who was there for me when I needed it. Take a look at me now!