Published on October 1, 2020 http://ufvcascade.ca/community-spotlight-sardis-doorway/ufvcascade.ca/community-spotlight-sardis-doorway/
By Danaye Reinhard
High-risk moms find support at Chilliwack organizationSardis Doorway is a Christian organization that seeks to better the lives of high-risk mothers in Chilliwack. Founded by Elsie Goerzen in 1987 (then called Sardis Open Door), the organization offers programs and support for single mothers with children under six. According to their website, the moms’ program offers educational workshops, referrals, a hot lunch, and crisis counseling, while the children’s “literacy-rich” program includes art, play, music, and kindergarten readiness.
Karin Rempel has been involved with Doorway since it was founded and has been the program director since 2014. She focuses on writing grants, planning the weekly program, overseeing staff, and finding referrals. I had the privilege of sitting down with her to learn more about Doorway, its contribution to the community, and her involvement.
Sardis Doorway’s goal is to work toward health and self-reliance for each woman who comes through their doors. This includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, as well as financial independence and meaningful employment. Rather than seeking minimum-wage jobs as an immediate solution, Doorway points them to adult education programs and computer training so these women can find better jobs and make enough money to support themselves and their children. It’s all about providing resources that will help them long-term instead of emergency solutions that may not last.
For Doorway, this means creating a “web of support.” In the same way that UFV matches students with job opportunities and counseling services, Doorway introduces single moms to resources such as substance abuse programs, on-site counselors, and a beautician who comes in to cut and style hair. They give referrals to the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, Stó:l? Health, Wilma’s Transition Society, and many others. They also receive emotional support through new connections with other moms. Instead of only asking, “How can organizations help vulnerable people?” the question becomes, “Who can we add to their web?” In this way, there is a holistic approach to finding support for these women.
Sometimes, women who have gone through the program as children return as Doorway moms — which, Rempel admitted, seems like a failure. However, these women are usually not as vulnerable as their mothers were when they were children. “They’re here as moms with their kids in a better state than their mom had,” she said. “If cycles of poverty and abuse have been generational, why do we think we can see it broken in one generation?”
Even so, Rempel has seen Doorway moms become nurses, master’s students, and social workers. For her, there’s nothing better than seeing women with awful pasts come through the other side healthy.
This fall, Sardis Doorway looks a bit different. With COVID-19 restrictions, they have limited the number of programs available and the number of participants to 50. They follow a strict set of COVID-19 procedures to keep the moms and volunteers safe. But this hasn’t stopped Doorway from supporting women beyond the 50-person limit. They still provide food hampers to Doorway moms each month, as well as craft/baking packages for their kids. They also began providing recipes, cooking videos, and supplies for cooking at home. And, like before, there is counseling available on-site.
“Your job isn’t to save the world or to save people,” Rempel said. “Your job is to offer whatever needs to be offered and let them find their own truth or their own strength.”
Sardis Doorway hosts programs at Sardis Community Church in Chilliwack. To learn more about Sardis Doorway or to get involved, go to their website or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the years, hundreds of people have written their own 'Doorway Stories'. This blog will feature some of these stores. Visit often as we keep adding new ones.