“Diana is such a warm and kind-hearted person,” says Natasha Horne, who coordinates parenting programs at the Dartmouth Family Centre. “If she sees someone sitting by themselves or someone who is new, Diana will go out of her way to make sure they feel welcome.”
When Diana started attending programs at the Dartmouth Family Centre, she was single mother of two: Dezmond, who is now three and Kwame, fifteen. In addition, her grandmother was living with her.
“She was essentially taking care of a toddler, teenager, and a senior – all as a single mother,” says Andrea Cole, Parenting Journey Home Visitor, and long-time staff member of Dartmouth Family Centre.
But things were about to get rapidly more challenging for Diana and her family. Her beloved grandmother fell ill and passed away. And while dealing with that immense grief, the family was forced to leave their home.
Diana’s family was down to three, and had nowhere to live.
But through perseverance and enormous strength, Diana and her family were able to start again. Through everything, Diana and her three-year old son Dezmond attended playgroups at the Dartmouth Family Centre and community meals at the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre. Most crucially though, were the visits she received from Andrea, her Parenting Journey Home Visitor.
“Having Andrea at our side made a hard time a little easier. Andrea was my voice when I couldn’t speak; Andrea was a kind word when I needed one.”
The Parenting Journey program gives parents with children between the ages of 0-16 support and resources in their own homes. The program accepts self-referrals and is open to parents with older children.
As Diana says, even though Kwame was often in school or playing sports during Andrea’s visits, Parenting Journey was still a support for him, with Andrea helping him send faxes or do printing for school.
“Sounds small, but it’s still a big help,” says Diana. “We needed the help for our whole crew.”
Participants in the Parenting Journey Program are often facing multiple barriers and systemic challenges such as food insecurity and poverty. But being part of Parenting Journey means families stay connected to programs taking place at the Family Centre and Food Centre, as well as other community resources. Because Parenting Journey Home Visitors not only help caregivers improve their parenting, but also to navigate challenging systems, such as getting health care or housing.
“My kids and I are starting over. We hit some bumps along the way and have also had some really great days,” recounts Diana, “But I worry a bit less or smile a bit more because I have a constant through all of it.”
Now Diana is volunteering at the Dartmouth Family Centre with the child development program. She plans to take part in Community Action Training and hopes to be able to use the challenges she’s faced to help others.
“Diana embodies strength and resilience, and she brings out the best in people,” says Andrea. “She inspires me, and I am really grateful to work with her.”