After a tour of the facilities at Marymound, fund development manager Mardy Yager hands a visitor a "Thank you" card that sits on a corner of his desk in his cramped main floor office.
The card was given to Yager by a young woman named Michelle, a former client at the facility, which is located in a historic building at 442 Scotia St.
"Thank you for never giving up on me, and all the chances you gave me to get myself back together and back up on my feet," reads the card’s handwritten inscription.
"I now have hope for myself that I will make it out there in the world."
Michelle is another one of Marymound’s success stories.
Marymound’s primary mission is with children, youth and families who need support as they face the challenges of growing, learning and parenting, says Yager.
"Through culturally diverse care in safe living environments, individual relationships, academic preparation, therapeutic intervention and advocacy, Marymound supports Manitoba children and their families to reach their fullest potential and independence," notes the organization’s mission statement.
It all began back in April 1911 when five Sisters of the Good Shepherd come from Montreal to Winnipeg at request of Judge Daly of the Juvenile Court, according to Marymound’s official history.
The sisters initally settled at 373 William Ave. and began to work with women and girls.
A few months later, needing larger quarters, they moved to the old Leacock Estate at the current site in West Kildonan.
In 1950, a school program recognized by the Department of Education was organized. The academic program, along with a rehabilitation program for girls sent to facility from the law courts, became known as Marymound School.
"We have a culture, based upon the sisters’ values, that believes supporting children in care means ensuring they are given access to all the opportunities available to children in our society, from schooling to extracurricular activities," Yager says.
"When the child welfare system does not provide these opportunities we will provide them ourselves."
He emphasizes that Marymound’s managed care program aims to meet the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of young people.
"A number of living arrangements fall within Marymound’s continuum of care — group homes, secure units, foster care and independent living," explains Yager, who points out that the managed care program provides 24-hour care to approximately 300 young people at risk in the community each year.
Marymound has also two secure living units on its premises in Winnipeg, each providing a home-like, nurturing environment for up to eight girls.
"A young person who behaves in a manner that puts herself at risk can benefit from the structured program, with an emphasis on promoting healthy, age-appropriate activities and interaction," Yager emphasizes.
He adds that the setting of each unit is modern, well-equipped and homey, yet still provides a therapeutic milieu that includes counselling, support and psychiatric consultation.
"Our staff provides extensive evening recreation programming, including community activities as treatment progresses — and all young people residing in Marymound secure units attend Marymound School," Yager says.
Martin Zeilig is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact him at email@example.com.