Wood's Homes Blog

Crossing the River: How Stepping Stones supported my journey

October 17, 2017
By Angie Chinguwo, Wood’s Homes Youth & Family Counsellor
Crossing the River: How Stepping Stones supported my journey

As a little girl, I used to live in a rural community called Chihota in Zimbabwe, Africa. When going to school, I would pass through a river which looked very scary for a small child. As afraid as I was, the fear would disappear the moment I would see the stepping stones I used to get to cross. They’d ease my discomfort, helping me safely move from one bank to the other.

Here I am, 20 years later having found a different kind of stepping stone; I am now a Youth & Family Counsellor at Stepping Stones Youth Services in Fort McMurray, a safe place for young people seeking safety and support.

I’ve been here for about a month. Before this, I had been working a full-time job I was passionate about, but I faced an obstacle; childcare for my three beautiful children. Childcare can be very expensive in Fort McMurray and I could not sacrifice my children’s well-being over the job that I loved so much. So, I resigned, saying goodbye to a company I considered my second home for five years. It wasn’t easy, but I wanted to be home when my four-year-old daughter got off the school bus or when my son needed help with his homework. Leaving was a heartbreaking choice, but it wasn’t long before my heart was whole again.

The decision to submit my resume to Stepping Stones came easy. I had visited the program in my previous role and was so proud of the work they do in the community. When I got a call for a job interview I was very happy – happier still when I was offered a full-time position instead of the casual position I had applied for, but I was uneasy of how this might effect my schedule or the time I get to spend with my children.

The program manager, as well as the larger management team at Wood’s Homes worked with me to accommodate a schedule where my children can be picked up from school and brought to daycare on a regular basis. They showed me that as an organization, from front line workers to program directors, they really do focus on family, both in how they work with clients, but also with their own staff.

With Wood’s Homes support, I couldn’t help but think back to that time when I used stepping stones to cross the river. Only now, it was a different kind of river; the river of motherhood as I care for my family.

It’s been four weeks since I started at Stepping Stones. I have not only witnessed what the agency is doing for youth and their families, but for me as a staff member. The financial river that seemed so daunting has transformed into one of incredible fulfillment. Each and every time I talk to the youth staying in our program I see my younger self and I truly believe that every young person deserves a chance. Stepping Stones provides that chance; a chance for youth to reach the other side of their journey.

Wood’s Homes has also provided me with an opportunity to learn through the work I do with clients. As my children grow, I hope the lessons I receive here will shape me into a better caregiver for my own family.

I truly believe that all challenges faced in life are opportunities in disguise.

Embrace the challenges and look for Stepping Stones. You will come out better than you were before.

Always treat others with respect and seek to understand. If it wasn’t for Wood’s Homes taking the time to listen and learn about my situation, I would not be writing this today. I am forever grateful.