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26 2013

Humewood House, a member agency helping new mothers

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

In a large Victorian home on a quiet residential street in Toronto a group of young mothers are participating in their high-school class. Downstairs their babies attend a daycare program staffed by child-care workers and dedicated volunteers.  Since 1912, Humewood House has offered programs such as these in an effort to support new mothers and young pregnant women as they transition into motherhood. Humewood House is a community of support and a safe haven for young women, where the focus is on empowering mothers and supporting them as they build plans and goals for the future. This support is greatly needed as adolescent mothers in Canada continue to face many social, economic, educational and employment barriers. Humewood House seeks to overcome these barriers with a mission to provide a safe and caring environment for women and their children through services, life skills training, child care, education and counseling. One of the primary services at Humewood House is the pre and post-natal residential program, through which 10 beds are made available for women at any time during their pregnancy. After delivery, new mothers live at Humewood House for up to six months along with their child. Humewood House also operates a second location at 1900 Sheppard Avenue in North York, which is a transitional and supportive housing program that provides housing for 27 young families. The opportunities and support offered by Humewood House are reflected in the numbers. Last year the organization provided a safe home to 50 young women and their babies. They were able to give 61 young mothers the opportunity to participate in high school programming, and gave 21 young women scholarships which will enable them to receive a post-secondary education. Both the pre and post-natal program at Humewood House and the transitional housing in North York offer a Food Bank program which is visited by 35-40 families a week. The families relying on this service have very specific needs, and Humewood House strives to meet them by providing baby food, formula and diapers for new infants – expensive but necessary items which are difficult to obtain for many of the young parents. Humewood House has operated for 100 years through the support of a huge force of volunteers. These volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organization whether it is helping in the office or with child care, providing support for evening programming, fundraising or acting as a mentor for a new mother. Last year, Humewood House benefitted from the support of 410 individual volunteers who contributed 8009 total hours of their time – and these numbers do not include the support received from corporate donors! In this busy organization it is the moments of interaction and conversation which often offer the greatest rewards.  Through the simple act of sitting down and sharing a story over a meal together, a house transforms into a welcoming home. By building relationships and bringing women together to learn and support each other, Humewood House continues to empower young women and their families. For more information on Humewood House and for ways to contribute to the organization, please visit their website. By Heather Brady, Communications Volunteer

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