Written by: YW Kitchener-Waterloo Staff
Many of us have done it–fallen so hard and fast in love that love is all we can think about, all we can feel. We eat, sleep, and breathe love. And for a little while, at least, love makes our decisions for us.
At 16, Breanna fell hard and fast for Tony, a man twice her age, whom she used to see several times a week at his convenience store after school. He flirted with her and flattered her, and he was more than a little flattered when she returned his interest. There was no question. He was the love of her life. The One. When she became pregnant with Little Tony, she dropped out of high school to make a home for him and Big Tony, whom she married, in the small apartment above the store. Her family disowned her.
At first, they did all right. The convenience store brought in enough to support them. But when the business began to fail, Big Tony became increasingly abusive. She thought that she could put up with it because he never hit her. Until the day he did. She fled with Little Tony to the house of a friend. But she knew she couldn’t couch surf there forever.
Breanna considered her options. She didn’t have many. She was 19 years old. She had a Grade 11 education. No job. A three-year-old. An abusive husband. No home. But she knew that she’d never go back. Knowing that was both the easiest and the hardest part of leaving for her.
After a brief stay at YW’s Emergency Shelter, she found an apartment at YW Lincoln Road, permanent, supportive housing for women and families who have experienced homelessness. She had never lived on her own before, and she was terrified.
But with the help of her Community Support Coordinator, things began to fall into place. She found a family physician. She found a daycare provider. She found a part-time job. She learned how to budget her money so that she could go back to school to finish grade 12. And when money was tight, she was able to fall back on Lincoln Road’s on-site food bank, for food.
When Little Tony was old enough to go to school, she decided it was time to go back herself. She finished grade 12. After receiving her high school diploma, she decided to go further with her education. And she was terrified.
But with support and encouragement from her Community Support Coordinator, she went on to complete Conestoga College’s Personal Support Worker program, and she was hired part-time by the company at which she did her placement. She felt a true sense of accomplishment.
Now that Little Tony is in school full time, she’s applying for full-time positions. She’s confident that she’ll land one soon. She also believes that it’s time to leave Lincoln Road. She can stand on her own two feet now, and she’d like to give another mother and child the opportunity she had when she came to YW Supportive Housing.
This story originally appeared on the YW Kitchener-Waterloo’s Facebook page on May 31, 2019.
Can you imagine what it would be like to save a life? With your gift to the YW Kitchener Waterloo, you can help make a real difference in the lives of women and children like Breanna and little Tony. You can help to save it.