The Salvation Army assisted more than 1.6 million people across Canada last year, but the statistics hardly reflect the real story of how the country’s largest non-governmental provider of social services changes lives and helps people build brighter futures.
At 17, Robin wasn’t making good choices and didn’t compete high school. A year later, she became pregnant, and after her son was born, she realized that her lack of education could impact the rest of their lives. She returned to school but quit when combining studying and caring for a newborn became too much for the young mother.
In 2018, Robin was directed to The Salvation Army’s Grace Haven in Hamilton, Ontario, and participated in a program to support pregnant and parenting youth with education and parenting skills.
“The Salvation Army is the biggest part of my support system, hands down,” says Robin, who graduated high school with honours and is now enrolled in college to study social sciences and aiming to become an addictions counsellor.
“At Grace Haven, I completed my high school education while [my son] Silas attended the on-site child minding program,” she says, adding that knowing Silas was safe and well cared for allowed her to focus on school.
Grace Haven helped her make healthy choices, says Robin, who had previously used drugs to cope. In addition to emotional support, there was also practical assistance such as diapers and formula.
“I get really emotional when I think about it, because The Salvation Army has helped me so much,” she says.
Major June Newbury, executive director of Grace Haven, says pregnancy and being a single parent doesn’t mean it is impossible for young women to do well in school or build on their parenting skills.
“With lots of support, they can achieve their educational dreams, improve their parenting skills, connect with community and work towards providing financial stability and a future for their children,” she says.
“I want Silas to look back one day and be proud of me for what I did,” says Robin. “Grace Haven has left me feeling empowered, loved and capable.”
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.