The events and opportunities I received at the shelter were numerous,and I would like to share more of them with you. One of the things that happened at the shelter due to hard work and dedication is, our average yearly capacity skyrocketed. How did this happen? one of the most significant changes was we started getting referrals from the professional community. Most notable was mental health and child welfare. They wanted their clients to come to this shelter specifically, due to the implementation of programming and successful advocacy work. They also wanted the second step program utilized by those it would most benefit.
The second step program being a yearlong program to help women and children get a solid footing under them before embarking on the road of independence. They also had an assigned worker, who would follow up with them after they had left the next step program. The chances of success were much greater for those women that completed the second step program, and I was thrilled that we were fortunate enough to be able to offer it, even to a few select few. As there were only four units available.
I was also offered an opportunity to be acting director, and was able to procure three brand new donated computers. I also managed to eradicate a loan debt the shelter had due to a very tough year. I found I really did not like the director position due to the fact that my time with,the women and children was severely limited, and they were my joy. I however, did the best job I could despite not being happy with the position, or the challenges and struggles associated with it. I did however, enjoy the networking with other Directors at the ACWS meetings. I was also invited to speak and help the provincial shelters acquire more funding. The invitation being extended by Jann Ryder. I was flattered indeed!
I was also, nominated to be the chairperson for the committee of First Nations Women’s Issues. I really wanted to decline this position as I had so much on my plate, but the other Directors insisted that I would be a great chair person and bring a lot to the table. I don’t think every one was happy with this nomination and subsequent vote but it went forward. I suppose it was positive exsposure for our shelter.
The on reserve shelters also approached me to be their spokesperson in Ottawa. I was flabbergasted. Surely there was some one more experienced and knowledgeable to speak to congress on behalf of on reserve shelters funding, issues, and challenge. I am sure there was, but the on reserve shelters wanted me, and were willing to share the bill of travel, accommodations, and food. I was blown away, was this really happening to me? The girl that was so afraid to talk to her clients she avoided them by cleaning
I had come so far in what seemed to me a very short time. When I think about it, it really was a short time, but the time of my life. My partner though was not happy with the amount of stress it was putting on me. He would constantly badger me to quit and find a different job. He didn’t like some of the board members that he met and would constantly let me know this adding to my stress. I had no one to talk to or guide me on this road I was on, and was finding myself getting lost on the way.
I think the board realized that a lot of my potential was being lost amount the paper work and they diligently were looking for a permanent director. I knew this and expected to go back to crisis intervention work, and secretly prayed that they would find some one soon. They did eventually find someone, and told me to my surprise that they were creating a new position for me. I was to be Director of Programming! I would have more freedom to implement program and do more fund raising for said programming. My schedule would be more flexible and I would be able to choose the times I would be available. Also, my pay would be substantially increased. I was thrilled!! This was exactly what I wanted!! All my hard work was paying off I was so happy. Then the hammer fell and smashed my dream.
I was absolutely flummoxed, the greatest opposition to my becoming a director of programming was my partner. He did not see it as a positive step or a promotion. He saw it as demeaning and a demotion. I told him I never wanted the director position it was stressful too demanding and not my cup of tea. I even told him all the benefits of the new position. He didn’t want to hear it, I think he took this change as a personal affront to him rather than a opportunity for me. I was torn, was he right and my inexperience with then world I was now in blinding me to realities, or was my heart right, and becoming a program director best for me. Seeing my hesitation my partner brought his friend into the discussion, who was also on the band council. This only made the situation harder for me.
In the end I caved to the pressure of my partner and friend and tired to keep the position of director. It was a huge mistake, not only because I did not want the position, but by doing this I was refusing the position I wanted. In effect because the director position was closed and the the other position was being rejected I was effectively resigning from the shelter. I didn’t know this, but if I was thinking clearly I would have seen this was the case. I was feeling so hounded and berated by my partner and his friend that I didn’t think things all the way through. I ended up losing everything. He was pleased, I was not. My heart broke, and I do not think I ever fully recovered or forgave. More about that in the next segment.