YWCA Housing Story

Sandy’s Story: From Survival Mode to a Promising New Beginning

by Heiky Kwan

When leaving violence, women and their children often find themselves without stable housing – which is the first and often hardest step towards independence and safety.

This is Sandy’s story.

Sandy is a mother to a newborn and a three-year-old. She left an abusive relationship while pregnant and gave birth to a premature baby. 

Sandy lived in a first-stage transition house while her newborn remained at BC Children’s Hospital under the care of a specialized team. It was challenging for Sandy to live apart from her baby during this time, but even more challenging when her newborn was released from the hospital as they had no place to call home. 

She applied for second-stage transitional housing and was accepted into the YWCA’s Housing in Surrey. That was when things started to change for Sandy.

Before finding the YWCA, Sandy was in survival mode. She did not have time to process her situation, let alone plan for the future. At the YWCA, Sandy found support through Cori, a housing coordinator who connected her to YWCA resources and wrap-around services. 

“Cori took most of the work off my shoulders – paperwork, getting me links to resources in the community,” Sandy explained. “While I was focusing on the baby, she was helping me with the other parts. I could finally take charge of my life.”

Sandy and her newborn received care from a specialized team at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and YWCA staff helped Sandy get her transportation reimbursed. 

She joined a program in the housing community where all the moms would come together to discuss resources and offer advice to one another. 

Sandy was having trouble sleeping. Her baby required a feeding tube, so nights were especially challenging. The housing community programs connected Sandy to other moms and helped her realize she wasn’t alone.

“It was a good feeling for us to socialize as moms,” said Sandy. “We had similar problems and it was nice to be able to sit and talk about our challenges. Kori also linked me to another woman in the community who had gone through a similar experience. 

“Every time I was feeling down I would go sit there, and I would see it in a fresh way. It really changed my perspective.”

Recently, Sandy and her children moved into permanent housing at YWCA Fraser Gardens in Langley. She has plans to go back to work and looks forward to moving forward in life with her two children.
“Just knowing that someone’s there with an open door helps me know that I can do it,” Sandy reflected, “If I was alone, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to.”

*Names changed to protect privacy. The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the family in the story. 

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash