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“It was challenging adjusting to life as a parent,” Alex says of becoming at mom at twenty years old. Attending the Young Mothers’ Program at Rossbrook House is making a huge difference for her and her now three-year old son.
This long-running program provides socializing with peers and support to young moms, ages 15 to 25. Regular meetings in a welcoming environment are important to the young women. They might go out for a coffee, a movie, or a meal while their young children are looked after at Rossbrook House. And some outings like a summer trip to the beach include the whole family.
“We always feel welcome,” Alex continues. “It helps me to connect to resources and learn important skills like budgeting and coping with stress. We have been able to participate in fun activities that we might not otherwise be able to.”
Indigenous cultural teachings, sharing parenting tips, and discussing how to take care of yourself is as important as knowing how to care for your children.
“I appreciated the connection with community and spending time with other moms,” says Alicia, a former Young Mothers’ participant who spent three years in the program when her son was little. “I was reminded about the importance of self care. When I took care of me, I was a better mom.”
Another former Young Mother’s Program participant is bringing her lived experiences as a former Rossbrook House participant to the leadership team at Rossbrook House. Since September 6, Patty Mainville, has held the reigns as Executive Director of Rossbrook House, from retiring ED Phil Chiappetta.
“Her full circle journey from Rossbrook House kid to Executive Director is an inspiration to all the young people coming through our doors,” Phil said.
As a youth, Patty spent many hours hanging out at Rossbrook House, the drop-in centre in her community. With a variety of programs for her to take part in, she found safety, gained confidence, and made friendships that she has to this day.
She was a junior staff member (another Rossbrook House program) and graduated from Rossbrook House alternative school, Rising Sun high school. She went on to become a teacher and a principal in the Winnipeg School Division.
Patty says that these experiences will contribute to her new role as Executive Director, as will her 25-year career in education.
“The skills, knowledge, and experiences as an educator has given me many insights to youth and community that will help drive and support the work that we will continue to do,” Patty says. “I believe in providing youth with a safe place to grow and learn. To offer support, skills, tools, and teachings so that youth can self-determine their own journey and navigate through their paths.”
Patty credits many staff who mentored her as a young person with who she has become and is determined to continue this tradition.
“One of the many focuses of Rossbrook House is to mentor the participants with leadership skills and to build on their strengths. The spirit of Rossbrook House will continue throughout my time as the Executive Director.”
Patty is Anishinabek from Treaty 3, Couchiching First Nation Ontario. She is a proud mother of four sons, a grandmother and great-grandmother. She has remained a part of the Rossbrook House community for over two decades, returning each year to help prepare the dancers for the annual Rossbrook House Pow Wow.
“Giving back to Rossbrook House by volunteering was just one small way of my appreciation in becoming who I am.”
Rossbrook House is open every day, providing daily meals, programs and activities for children and youth ages 6 to 24. The Young Mothers’ Program is just one of the many free programs provided by Rossbrook House. Learn more at rossbrookhouse.ca
At the age of 17, Patty attended the Young Mothers’ Program with her young son, Joseph. The program was in its infancy, and she says that it gave the young moms a safe place where they felt supported and heard.
“The young moms program gave me a circle of support that allowed me to feel confident that I could parent and be successful,” she shared. “It provided me with the confidence that I could pursue my educational goals to achieve my dream of having a career while being a young parent.”
Please feel free to direct any questions about supporting programs and activities at Rossbrook House to the Rossbrook House Foundation: 204.949.4092 or donate online here: rossbrookhouse.ca/donate
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Rossbrook House