It gives me great joy and pride to talk about an organization that has been so good to me. Having experienced so much love and generosity from Denison House, I have often wondered how I could ever thank and let you know just how much I appreciate this organization and its people.
If it were not for you, I may have come here not from my own comfortable apartment but from a depressing night at a shelter. Most of my current emotional well-being comes from the stability and security of having my own place and having Denison to depend on for all kinds of needs.
On arrival in Canada, I went from shelter to tiny but expensive rented room within someone's house. Within a year, I had to move out because the house got sold. I had one month to find a new place and move out. I did not know where to start until I got introduced to a staff member of Fife House. Motherly and pushy, she found me a place within a few weeks. When she relocated from Toronto, she introduced me to another staff member who seemed too young and sweet to handle the demands of desperate, demanding, know-it-all PWA's. But as we were soon to learn, he may be laid back but as is in the tradition and ethic of Denison, nothing fazes anybody and no task is too big for them.
One day I was visited by 5 people who introduced themselves as the Denison team. Naturally, I felt a little intimidated, thinking this was an inspection of my premises. To my utter relief, it turned out to be just the most enjoyable and relaxed get-to-know-you session. Coming from a society which upholds hierarchy and class distinction, I was amazed at how humble everyone seemed, how they mingled so easily with everyone without a chip on their shoulder.
That was my introduction to the formidable Denison team. From that day onwards, I knew I would be OK. To me, they are not only my forceful representatives. They are my family, friends, protectors and most dependable support system. Nothing is ever too big or small - be it a drive to hospital, to a doctor, a visit to pep me up when I'm down, regular phone calls to check on my daily needs or just to lend a shoulder I can lean on.
In a couple of weeks they were helping me with my application for social housing - a complex, tedious and lengthy process. They kept pushing, guiding and begging me not to give up. During this time, I learnt more about the culture and great character of Denison and its people. They are nurturing, kind, generous, warm - with a lot of empathy for clients. They will always go out of their way to meet whatever your needs are. I don't know how many times they have come to my aid when I have been ill, hungry or thirsty without the energy or money to feed myself.
Thanks to Denison, I got a new beautiful apartment. When I left the old place I left some stuff behind because my moving van was too small. They did not wait for me to ask, they simply arranged with a colleague for a private vehicle to move the rest of my furniture.
As Denison clients, Christmas and Thanksgiving are days we celebrate in grand style. Denison lays out the whole kibang - the turkey, ham, apple cider, with all the frills and trimmings.
Recently, I spent two weeks in hospital and each day, someone visited or phoned. When it was time to return home, staff guided the hospital on what arrangements to put in place for my comfort and safety. The team visited often to ensure I learned to adjust to the new circumstances related to my illness.
Denison house will always be my home.