Brenda is a single mother whose strength and resolve have carried her through some of the hardest days of her life. Her courage impelled her to adopt her two nephews, all while raising a young daughter, alone.
Far from over, Brenda’s journey – her story of hope – has only just begun, says Sarah Downey, Executive Director of the 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre.
Brenda became a single parent in 2013 when with her infant daughter, she escaped an abusive relationship. Relying on a small network of family and friends for support, she struggled to survive on a limited income.
“I would have a hard time at playgroups,” she says of the stigma of being a single parent. “But I’ve learned that they don’t know my story. I tried to not let the judgment hurt me because if they knew why I’m a single parent I’m pretty sure they would not judge at all.”
Though Brenda and her daughter were now safe, she found herself physically, financially, and emotionally drained, and realized they both needed support. Her father, an outreach worker, introduced Brenda to 1Up, Downey says.
Vital supports help build resiliency
Here, Brenda found the support she so desperately needed and was astonished to learn the services were all free, including the clothing room, parenting course, and food for the cupboards. She also began seeing a counselor, which has been her most valuable support.
Quickly finding her stride, Brenda learned to meet every challenge head-on. “I believe that if you have a great connection with your child you can overcome any obstacles. In my family, we communicate a lot.” Brenda had built a stable, happy household. She was thriving.
Her sister was not. In 2018, Brenda’s nephews, Elijah and Leighton, began spending the night regularly as their mother struggled with mental health issues, knowing they’d be safe and cared for at Brenda’s happy home. As nights turned to weeks, then months, Brenda became the boys’ primary caregiver.
Though safely caring for all three children on her own, Brenda was forced to release Elijah and Leighton into foster care. Thus began a two-year-long struggle to get Elijah and Leighton back. With no car, she bussed an hour each way to visit the boys every week, but her determination and hope never wavered – Elijah and Leighton were her boys, and she would never give up.
Now six and four respectively, Elijah and Leighton have returned to Brenda’s care full-time. Already a member at 1Up, she knew where to find the support she needed. A visit to the clothing room meant the children would have new clothes to wear, new school supplies, and shampoo and toothbrushes.
Brenda imagines that her home life might look stressful to some, but she embraces the struggles, happily juggling obligations and chores, whether grocery shopping, getting the kids to school on time, cleaning, or wiping away tears. She wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“The most rewarding thing is seeing your child smile so big,” Brenda says. “There are some days that my daughter will say to my nephews, ‘Mom does a lot. She cooks, she cleans, she buys us food, she’s always there.’ That warms my heart because I may be a single mom of three kids now, but the fact that they are happy makes me 100 percent happy.”
At 1Up, Brenda found kindness and a wealth of support, led by dedicated staff and volunteers who really care.
While Brenda is always quick to thank 1Up, the 1Up team is quick to thank their donors and supporters: “Without you, there would be no 1Up community,” Downey says.
Give the gift of HOPE this Christmas, and year-round
Your donation provides crucial, life-changing supports to single parents and their children, including counseling, food and grocery cards, parenting and life skills classes, parent coaching, school supplies, and more. Donate monthly and provide single parents like Brenda, with all the free services and supports they need to ensure that their families thrive.
Learn more at singleparentvictoria.ca