A Special Thrift Store Story
This past fall, a piece of furniture was willed to the SOS BC Thrift Store in Steveston by former volunteer Monika Klien. A true work of art, it was over 300 years old and she brought it with her when she moved from Austria to Canada. The item sold for more than $2,000 at our store.
Monika volunteered with SOS BC for almost 5 years, she came to us once she retired and quickly became a valuable member of our team. Originally from Austria she knew all about SOS and remembers school fundraisers. She loved volunteering, the people, the work and of course the cause. Not having immediate family and struggling to make ends meet, she never complained, she just gave more of herself.
Monika passed away at age 68. She will be missed by all of us.
The Onion and The Carrot: Harvesting Trauma
By Jess Mooney, SOS BC Client (Youth); Co-Editor Akeiko Rawn, Narrative Therapist
This story came as a unique outcome one day in August of 2015. Jess and I had met for about 8 sessions of narrative therapy and neurofeedback training over the course of 6 months. Before SOS, she has made multiple attempts to seek some form of support over a span of 7 years, yet nothing had been of much use. When Jess first came to see me, she reported multiple symptoms attesting to the continual and intense presence of worry in her life, along with a lengthy list of physiological burdens. The impact was a limiting of activities and ability to fully participate in her own life.
We wanted to write this up to share with other youth in hope that they may find this in some way helpful. On this day in August, a review of self-reported symptoms having moderate to severe disruption, were discovered to have reduced by more than half to only a mild or occasional disruption. Jess candidly remarked that: “I don’t avoid things anymore, I just go straight through them” (Mooney, 2015). This newly developed skill rang familiar to another youth I had recently seen. I started to wonder if others had developed a similar kind of skill to manage anxiety. The basic premise that these two women had come to was: the louder anxiety was telling them not to do something, the more they knew that was exactly what they had to do. In other words, anxiety’s tactics to back down from their life, became the very cue to stand up for their life activities.
As Jess skimmed over the fact that she had now also completely stopped taking all her medication for anxiety and depression, I became more intrigued. She previously felt like “…a vegetable completely immobilized, which was frustrating, but I knew I wasn’t,” she said with conviction. “Is there a specific kind of vegetable you liken this to?” She described an onion.
There were many layers of emotion that could be experienced at any one time. For example, she could be presenting and feeling happy on the outer layer, but underneath fear might also be present. Sometimes feelings that are close to the core cannot be seen through the outer layers and this can have others coming to the conclusion that she was “emotionless” and/or “cold”. Time and energy did not allow for the complexity of having the experience, let alone describe the multiple layers of feelings. A “multi-emotional” experience. In her experience, some people had come to the conclusion that she had no emotion or had disassociated as a common response to trauma. For Jess, it was just more like an onion.
Over the duration of the day she described the layers of emotion building up. In order to sleep she had to peel these away, otherwise she would often experience nightmares. Jess found that taking a ”steaming hot oil bath” helped to loosen the layers.
This was fascinating, and I thought I would see if she felt like a different kind of vegetable before we started meeting. Without hesitation she said “a carrot”. A carrot has a small core, like a “base personality”, but a huge outer coating. It can’t move, apart from the green stuff at the top, it kind of moves as it tries to reach up to the sun. The dirt surrounding the carrot is packed and layered which symbolizes where the person came from. The outer shell is what the animals want to eat. It represents a person’s life circumstance and what the world has made that person into. The inner core is “what the person is”.
It is our hope that this small sampling of our harvest may inspire other vegetable metaphors. We would love to add them to the garden. You can send any responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learning Club Helps Inner City Surrey Children
By Kailey Willetts, Learning Club Teacher
The Learning Club Program has had a great kick-off to 2016! We are continuing a successful and popular nutrition program, where kids learn how to prepare nutritional meals and snacks, using ingredients they are likely to find in their homes. They are also learning the importance of different food groups, and how to figure out what makes a healthy snack. The kids have definitely impressed with their willingness to try new things.
Another focus of the Learning Club Program has been community building and teamwork to make sure the program is a safe, fun place for all kids. Finally, it has been wonderful to be able to support kids in achieving their academic goals through homework sessions. We are pleased to be able to provide these additional academic/social supports for kids who might not otherwise receive them.
Special Thank Yous
• Boag Foundation for a grant of $10,000 to our Direct Incentive Program
• Credential Securities for their $2,700 donation raised from their employee Jeans Day
• CKNW Orphans’ Fund for a $2,500 grant to our Camp & Cultural Programs
• Edith Lando Foundation for a grant of $4,000 to Sounds of Learning Music Program
• HSBC – Future First Program for a $51,000 grant to our Learning Club & Therapy
• Kiwanis Club of Vancouver for a $2,000 grant to our Therapy Programs
• Lord Tweedsmuir High School Interact Club (pictured above) for giving up a pizza lunch they had won & using the cash to buy gift cards for SOS youth
• Sook Ching Foundation for a $10,000 grant to our Sounds of Learning Music Program
• Tenmore Property Services kindly gave $1,000
• The Lakeside Resort kindly gave $2,500
• Wawanesa Insurance for their kind cheque of $10,000 to our Capital Campaign
• White Rock Rotary Club for kindly giving $1,500 to our Capital Campaign
We appreciate the support & generosity to the kids in our programs and our organization.
A Holiday Season Challenge for the Ages
A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our Holiday Season Challenge campaign, in a record-breaking December of fundraising. The totals are in and ... drum roll please ... we raised $31,478! Rather impressive considering the goal for our campaign was $20,000 - you helped us blow past that!
The generosity displayed this past Christmas by the community towards our programs for foster children and youth really warmed the hearts of all the staff at SOS BC. The foster kids we help are so lucky to have caring donors looking out for them, to lift the heavy burden they carry.
We are also thrilled that a total of $72,500 was raised through the SOS Children’s Gingerbread Village presented by RE/MAX, and the 21st Annual Holiday Gala premiere event at Grouse Mountain in December. This figure represents a 17% increase over the previous year’s $62,000 raised to benefit foster children. It also means we just raised the most ever in the event's history!
Seeking to be a Trauma Informed Village
By Rachel Madu, MA, RCC, SOS BC Clinical Lead
Many of the children that we service through SOS Children's Village BC have experienced trauma.
Sometimes this trauma comes in the form of a single adverse experience; for others, trauma was experienced in repeated events throughout early life, or severe neglect over a long period of time. What research tells us is that our brain - and it’s functioning - are impacted by these experiences. The impact of trauma often means that an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are mingled with the experience of fear. This fear becomes unconsciously engaged in an unfathomable number of unwarranted situations. As a result, individuals who are living with symptoms of trauma may be affected in their capacity to receive comfort, explore, play, behave as expected for their age, communicate, and learn.
At SOS Children’s Village BC, we seek to gain a deep understanding of trauma and the impact that it may have. As an organization we want to be both trauma informed in our approach, and equipped in the provision of trauma services. In moving toward becoming a trauma informed organization, we aim to work at all levels of contact to ensure that every individual that comes into services with our agency will be provided with interactions that are compassionate to their history and needs.
To provide this environment, we aim to offer four experiences to every individual who comes into contact with our services: a feeling of safety, relationships in which they feel they can trust, opportunities to collaborate and choose the services that they are involved in, and lastly help in building the skills necessary to move forward and function well on a daily basis. Being a trauma informed organization means that we will strive to practice these four tenants at all levels of decision making, management, and service.
Furthermore, the service providers at SOS BC seek to offer trauma services. In offering trauma services we aspire to facilitate safe nurturing relationships, in which individuals who have experienced trauma can learn adaptive responses to situations, so that they no longer feel as though they have to use ineffective coping strategies. It is our hope that we can help our members and clients build their capacity to navigate life, without fear-based behaviours. At this time SOS BC offers this hope through services in neurofeedback, narrative therapy, expressive art and play therapy, family systems therapy, and trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy. As we grow our trauma practice we look forward to adding other modalities.
The greatest impact that anyone can have, in the life of somebody who has had significant trauma, is to offer them a safe, consistent, nurturing relationship. Please join SOS BC in learning what you can about how trauma impacts individuals, and allowing yourself to enter into relationships in safe, collaborative ways.