There are days when Mary can do little more than make supper and eat. Between her painful arthritis and a major depression that has left her unable to work, life has changed dramatically.
"I was a professional. I made a decent salary so financially, it’s just horrible," she says. "I’m broke."
With limited resources and a desire to get the help she knew she needed, Mary learned about Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre. Part of an essential network of social programs and partnerships in neighbourhoods throughout the city and supported by United Way of Winnipeg, FGWRC offers free counselling along with a number of other resources for women and children.
"I was told it would be about a year’s wait," says Mary. "I figured, I’ve been working on this for years — I can wait another year. I really wanted to help myself. I have too many good things to live for."
With the need so great, wait times averaging six to seven months are a reality, says Colleen Stratman, public education coordinator at FGWRC. Currently, close to 142 women are on the waitlist for individual counselling services accessed by approximately 932 women last year.
After nine months, Mary began weekly counselling sessions in March.
"It’s been really good for me," she says. "It’s different from seeing a psychiatrist or another counsellor for that matter. It is more like talking to a very wise friend. I feel I belong. I feel understood."
"I’m very much stronger than when I started. Without these supports, I’m sure I’d be more depressed. I would probably hurt a lot more physically. I wouldn’t be as well as I am — of that I am sure."
"I’m really thankful to United Way for investing in programs like this. I wish everyone could get the same availability of the services I’m having now and I know people are not."
With weeks remaining in United Way’s 2012 fundraising campaign, chair Doug Finkbeiner revealed there is a $300,000 gap between projected results and this year’s goal. That money is vital to support and strengthen an essential network of life-changing programs and services delivered through more than 100 agency partners like FGWRC.
"Now is the time. We need you. Your city needs you," Finkbeiner says. "Your gift to United Way, regardless of the amount, will change someone’s life."
To donate, call 204 477-5360, visit 580 Main St. weekdays between 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., or visit www.UnitedWayWinnipeg.ca/give.
— Story courtesy of United Way Winnipeg