My name is Joanne. I am originally from British Columbia, but I was born in Alberta. I came to YW Calgary through a varied route, one turn one way or another, I would not have been here at all, in any capacity. I became homeless about 8 years as a result of losing my career, one that I had embarked on late in life and absolutely loved.
I worked for six years, but unfortunately suffered an on-the-job injury that prevented me from working in my chosen field. I was not able to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds because of my injury I had to give up my career. A career that allowed me to help women with breast cancer.
When I had my accident it was like a complete and utter loss of identity. Things I had worked so hard for were taken away from it. It wasn’t too long after that I found myself facing breast cancer.
I went into such a complete and utter depression, loss of identity, anxiety, everything that I would never have dreamed I would be facing, I had to deal with that. I went back to drinking because it helped numb everything. I ended up living on the streets, camping out in parks and so on. I spent the odd night at the Drop-in Centre or at YW.
The more I came to YW, the more I began to realize it was simply a safe, warm supportive place to be without judgement. Which was exactly what I was looking for. I lost my way. I found that I had lost the ability to maintain an organized, structured life with direction and I had absolutely no idea where to start. I knew I was tired of living on the streets, I was tired of the struggle and I wanted to go back to the way things used to be.
It all started with YW’s programs.
The YW team welcomed me in, gave me a place to sleep and something to eat. It was always without judgment. If I was a mess, YW’s team didn’t judge me; if I came in a good mood, it was all the better.
People who lose their direction in life have no idea how to get started. It’s a very long journey down to losing everything and it’s a very long journey coming back up again. I find at YW that the journey is made so much easier through the educated, compassionate and sensitive team here who understand how it is to be coming in wide-eyed and at a loss for what to do to get back on track. I just find that everything here is what I needed and I am allowed the time to learn. To learn to grow again, which isn’t easy when you’ve lost everything.
I am getting there, I will get there one day at a time and all I have to do is the very best I can do.
No one is expecting perfection and I learned that at YW.