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Client Story: Pat finds help through the Lighthouse Housing Locator

Pat grew up in Toronto and graduated from the Canadian College of Business and Computers in 2002. She worked in customer service and IT before deciding it was time for a change.

“Toronto is one of those cities where basically you love it or you hate it. With Toronto it was ok but it was time to do something different,” says Pat. She moved west, finishing her GED in Alberta and eventually making her way out to B.C.

It was in Victoria that Pat fell on hard times and was unable to find work. She decided to come to Saskatoon at the end of May. “I have family out here, but I don’t rely on my family. I need to get things together for myself,” she explained.

When she arrived, Pat only had enough money to stay in a hotel for a few nights. She heard of The Lighthouse, phoned to enquire about their services and ended up in contact with Touni Vardeh-Esakian, one of the Case Managers.Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.08.36 PM

Touni helps clients at The Lighthouse find housing and he quickly met with Pat to discuss her housing needs and budget. Although she’s on an unemployment allowance program, it doesn’t supply Pat with the funds needed for a damage deposit or provide a letter of guarantee to a landlord. She ended up staying in the women’s shelter for a few nights while Touni helped her find a place she could afford.

Pat is now living in a house on Avenue V. She has her own room and shares the bathroom, kitchen and living room with three other roommates. When she moved in, Touni found her a bed and bought her some groceries to get started.

“I went to the Employment Centre and I’ve since been able to apply for some work online. I just finished orientation with Labour Ready, so now as of tomorrow I’m going to go look for work in the morning,” says Pat, who hopes that her IT background will give her an advantage.

She’s grateful for Touni’s support in a tough situation. “He was able to help me here in the city when I didn’t know many people to help me out,” says Pat, “With the Lighthouse I was able to be in a place where I didn’t have to struggle.”

Client Story: Rick M

Rick M: University of Saskatchewan Alumnus

Rick M was born and raised in Saskatoon. He graduated from Evan Hardy Collegiate and studied Public Administration at the University of Saskatchewan, then got into sales. “My first job out of university was with the greeting card company Carlton Cards,” says Rick, “I worked for them for a couple of years out of Saskatoon, my territory was Northern Saskatchewan. And then I got a good recommendation from them and had an opportunity to move to Vancouver and I took it.”IMG_2388

Rick lived in Vancouver for 15 years and had a great time, “I loved it, absolutely loved it. The only drawback is the rain can weigh you down some. But I got over it by saying at least it’s not -30 degrees in the winter.”

Unfortunately, in 2002 Rick started to lose his eyesight. He went to see an optometrist in Vancouver who failed to diagnose the glaucoma that was affecting his right eye and send him to a specialist. Two months later Rick was blind. “We sued and we got a little money,” he recalled, “The judge ruled incompetence and my case was settled very quickly. My right eye wasn’t very good with to begin with. The left eye I’m 20/60. So I can still read, it’s not easy and I need good lighting, but I can still read.”

Rick moved back to Saskatoon twelve years ago to be closer to his family. He started off in a care home and had a very positive experience. The woman who ran the home “was just a tremendous lady,” says Rick, “they had great food and she was very generous. If you did chores she paid you for chores, and the other guys were terrific. But then she retired and went out of business and I moved into The Lighthouse.”

Rick has been living at The Lighthouse for the last eight years in the Supported Living tower, “I’m sort of independent. I have a case worker and his name is Remy and he helps me out, say if I need furniture for my room he’ll find something for me.” He enjoys doing his own laundry and his medication is kept safe by staff at the front desk, “I go to the front desk in the morning and at supper time to pick up my medications and they’re good at having them ready for me and giving them to me promptly, so there’s no problem there.”

As for meal times, Rick has a fridge in his room where he can keep snacks or make a sandwich for himself if he doesn’t like what the cooks serve for dinner, but he still enjoys coming down to the dining hall to socialize. “They had barbeque chicken last week and it was tremendous. I had three pieces and I gave them praise,” he admits.IMG_2387

Last year, Rick moved into a newly renovated room in the Supported Living tower. With help from many generous donors The Lighthouse has been renovating numerous aspects of their facility over the last few years. This has had a major impact on the lives of the people who make The Lighthouse their home.

“My old room that I was in for almost seven years was probably the worst room in the Lighthouse. I couldn’t open the window and it was just terrible,” says Rick, “My room now has a beautiful window and sunshine. Once I get a rolling chair I can roll around, stare out the window and talk to my friends. Remy is helping with that, so it’s good to have a case manager who looks out for you. My guy is alright, he’s pretty good.”

The Lighthouse is still raising donations to continue the renovation of rooms in the Supported Living Tower. If you’d like to make a difference in someone’s life please visit www.lighthousesaskatoon.org and make a donation today!

Client Story: Darrel N

Darrel N has lived at The Lighthouse for a little over a year in the Complex Needs Wing. He’s easy to recognize- usually dressed up in a shirt and tie (when it’s not too hot) and always sporting a single, dangly earring. Darrel is a huge fan of Star Wars and loves drawing in the art room on Saturday mornings.

IMG_1938Born in Wadena, Darrel’s family originally comes from Fishing Lake First Nation. They moved thirty-four times before he was twenty years old and on numerous occasions Darrel and his brothers tried to run away back to their reserve.

As an adult, Darrel was always on the road. He’s lived everywhere from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and B.C., usually finding work as a labourer. Darrel lived in the states for over five years and hitchhiked through Utah and California, making it as far west as San Francisco.

While living in Ottawa, Darrel was in a pedestrian-vehicle accident while crossing the street. “I was hit twice and this last one, I was in a coma for a month,” he explains. Darrel doesn’t remember the accident, but the insurance forms stated that he was thrown a few feet, “I was surprised I didn’t go under.”

He had to stay in two separate hospitals while recovering and the nurses contacted his sister through the band office to notify her of the accident. “She had to come all the way to Ottawa to pick me up,” says Darrel, “she was surprised and kind of angry because it had been a few years since we had seen each other.”

After flying back to Saskatchewan with his sister, Darrel was forced to go back to Fishing Lake. “A health nurse on my reserve came to the place I was staying and we filled out an application to stay here.”IMG_1934

Since coming to The Lighthouse, Darrel enjoys living in the Complex Needs Wing because the staff help him regulate his medication and he can enjoy meals with his friends in the dining room. Sometimes he likes to go over to the Cameco Community Kitchen on Fridays for dinner.

However, the most helpful aspect of being at The Lighthouse is getting assistance with his legal issues. Following the accident, Darrel has had legal proceedings and Nurse Practitioner, Jeannie Coe, has helped him by talking to his lawyers on his behalf. He’s still recovering from the accident and has been going to a physiotherapy clinic on 8th St. for the past five months.

In Complex Needs, Darrel loves having his own room to himself, “It’s somewhere to kick back and relax, just to avoid people. When I’m here I just want to be left alone, just relax.” Sometimes he’ll visit friends in their room for coffee, but most of the time he likes to watch his Star Wars DVDs.

A collection of Star Wars bobble heads is proudly lined up on his coffee table and Darrel says his favourite character is Darth Vader. When asked what he likes most about The Lighthouse, he quickly replies, “Everything! I have my own room, my movies that I like, my stuff in my room. And when I move I get to take all of this. This is all of my memories, this is all good memories.”

Donald Bird: Paintings & Drawings

galleryReception: coffee & tea reception: Saturday, July 23, 2pm
July 16 – August 11

The Gallery/art placement inc.

228 – 3rd Ave S. Saskatoon, SK S7K 1L9

306 664 3385

From the The Gallery website: 
It has become a tradition for the past several years for us to mount a summer exhibition that steps slightly outside the gallery’s usual programming. Continuing this practice, we are pleased to present the work of Donald Bird, a previously unknown artist who happens to be a resident of the Lighthouse supported living facility in downtown Saskatoon.

We first met Donald through the art supplies branch of our business. He has been a regular customer for a number of years, experimenting with a range of materials, first pencils and paper, and later venturing into acrylic and oil paints. We have come to know him as a kind and thoughtful person who has faced challenges due to circumstances as well as difficulties in communicating verbally. Art has become a refuge and an alternative means of expression; we have been told he will spend entire days drawing and painting between meals. The Lighthouse has not only provided a stable and comfortable place for him to live, they have also recognized his interest in art-making and facilitated his access to the materials needed to pursue this passion. It is a testament to both the positive impact art can have, and to the good work the Lighthouse does to support and improve the lives of people in our community.

A familiar face in the art supplies store for a number of years, it was only recently that Donald started bringing some of his finished paintings and drawings in for us to see. There was something immediately unexpected and beautiful about the works; mythic visions rendered in gestural brushstrokes, natural and supernatural elements colliding in a painterly mash-up. The subjects are varied and familiar–landscapes, hockey players, icons of Canada’s wilderness–but the rendering is always unique. As someone who has received no formal art training, Donald’s artistic choices are often surprisingly sophisticated. It would be easy to assume that the works are informed by some knowledge of abstraction or the expressionist tradition, but it is more likely Donald’s innate sense for design and aesthetics. In fact, he doesn’t even work from photographic references; every image comes entirely from his memory and imagination. To look at these paintings and drawings is to understand something of his personal vision, and to see and feel the sheer joy of creative expression through art.

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For more info visit: http://www.artplacement.com/gallery/exhibitions_images.php?ex_id=196

Leanne is moving on up!

IMG_2249Leanne was born in Edmonton, but grew up in Thunderchild First Nation. She’s lived in the Complex Needs Wing since December, and before that was in the women’s emergency shelter.

“They’re really nice here. The best part of living here is you have company, you can talk to almost everyone here, and the staff too,” says Leanne who has made a few good friends at The Lighthouse.

She enjoys coming to the dining hall for meals every day and confesses that her favourite is Fish and Chips, “their soup and sandwiches are really good too. I can load up on tomatoes.”

Leanne loves going to art class on Saturday mornings and participating in Bingo Night once a month. “I also like that there are church groups that come here around Christmas time, even a month before to sing Christmas songs. It’s very heartwarming,” says Leanne.

Recently, Leanne has been focusing on her fitness routine and taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather. “I go for walks and I’ve been losing weight. I lost fifteen pounds,” she says, and when a staff member compliments her on how good she looks, Leanne beams with pride.

When asked about the Metis Heritage pin she’s wearing on her dress, Leanne explains she p-12212-Metis-Lapel-pin-goldgot it at YXE Connects, an event held every May that gives vulnerable people in the community access to many programs and services all under one roof. She recalls, “It was really nice. The best part was they give you a gift bag. Inside there’s shampoo and conditioner and there’s this other gal I know who needed that this past week so I gave her mine.”

The staff at The Lighthouse are sad to say goodbye to Leanne, who has decided to move back home to Thunderchild this summer. She’s excited to live with her parents again, “they have cows and horses,” says Leanne, “and Mom is putting in a flower bed and garden. They have empty nest syndrome and they miss me.”

From all the staff at The Lighthouse, we wish Leanne the best with her move this month!

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–Written by Paige Goodman