Inside Bruce House
Fall 2015
 
  
Imagine being invisible. No one can see you, talk to you, understand you, or even acknowledge you as a person.
Being affected by HIV is much like being invisible. People can’t see your HIV status, can’t understand what it is like if you or a loved one is HIV-positive. They do not know the struggles, stigma, or daily challenges.
 
Bruce House, Kind (formerly PTS), and The AIDS Committee of Ottawa are calling on you to bring visibility to people affected by HIV by joining our new initiative, I STAND.
 
I STAND is not just a new fundraiser, it is a way for you to declare that you care for your friends, family, neighbours, and community members affected by HIV. Simply choose any aspect of the fight against HIV/AIDS and publically take a stand for it—post it to Facebook, Twitter, email it to friends, spread the word. By doing this, and registering on the I STAND web site, you can raise awareness and support the HIV/AIDS programming of three local agencies.
 
The I STAND campaign runs Nov. 1 – Dec. 1, please join us today.
 
 
MAC Angels
Resilience and Spirit 
Meeka's story.
 
"I wouldn’t be here without Bruce House…I need you to know that."

Born in Pangnirtung, in the Nunavut territories, Meeka lived with her parents and extended family. Determined to make a difference, she became a teacher—a career that would span 15 years.  However a series of events followed that would change her reality.
 
A man came into Meeka’s life, and she and her children headed south—leaving her job, family, and her strong Inuit identity.  She began to drink and use drugs to numb the pain of her loneliness.  She sought help from a local centre for Inuit women, but tragically this led to her being disclosed to her community as HIV positive, resulting in alienation from her family and the community she trusted. Her relationship ended. Her beautiful children were sent back home to be cared for by her family and she was cut off by those she needed the most.   

Seven years had passed before Meeka went back to Pangnirtung for a funeral.  During that time she had lived life on the street, in shelters or in a tent. Her health was deteriorating.  Her untreated HIV was making her very ill. When she arrived she was taken by air ambulance to Iqaluit, and slipped into a coma. During this time she recalled hearing the voices of her former students, she had vivid memory flashbacks and she believed she was going to die.  Two weeks later she awoke to the news she had double pneumonia and that the newly introduced HIV medication was not working. For two months she stayed in the hospital, barely able to walk, and unable to care for herself. The kind nurses at the hospital referred Meeka to Bruce House. She moved into the Transition House in a weakened state, but determined to get well.  For a year she was given the expert care required for someone with HIV-related challenges.  Meeka got stronger, and well enough to travel back to Nunavut twice to see her grandchildren being born.

For the last decade Meeka has shared a Bruce House apartment with the love of her life, Rob.  She does not drink, and drugs are not part of her new revitalized life.  She has a fighting spirit that took her from the darkness of isolation, to a life empowered by a stable home and a renewed sense of self.  

When asked what is the best part of her life now, there is no hesitation in her answer, “we have a beautiful home we take pride in…not only that, I have been with my best friend for 21 years and we are able to share this life together.”  She says the best part of living with supported independence is “having Bruce House as part of my family.”   

Thank you for your kindness and generosity.  Meeka’s life was changed because you cared enough to help Bruce House help others.  We are forever grateful.
For the Love of Finn 
 
When I first got my sweet dog Finn from a local rescue I knew there was something special about him. He is a cross between a black Lab and a Newfoundlander, but his size is never intimidating. Even as a puppy he was so gentle, and patient and intuitive. He knew if my daughter was not feeling well, he knew if there was sadness and he always knows how to make us laugh.
 
Finn and Cleo
 
At the urging of my colleagues at the Bruce House office, Finn joins me once a week at work. His calm presence was immediately felt, and he was soon greeting clients with big tail wags and a happy grin (he does smile, and often!)
 
We knew for certain he was meant to work with people when he first met Tim, a long-time client who was in a wheel chair and had difficulty with speech due to a stroke. Tim loved dogs, and when they met each other it was with pure joy.   As they played I watched Finn put his head gently in Tim’s lap, and felt the calm they both brought to one another with no judgement or hesitation, only love.
 
As Charles Schultz said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” We would have to agree.
 
—Jill Woodley
 ;
Why I Give My Time 
 
Volunteering at Bruce House gives me an opportunity to get involved and give back to the Ottawa community. More importantly, I get to meet amazing people and support individuals in living healthy and quality lives.
 
Favourite memory:
 
There are too many to choose from! Board game nights at the transition house, going to an outdoor movie in the park with clients, and baking cheesecakes!
 
How volunteering has changed me:
 
As a volunteer at Bruce House I get to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The connections I've made and experiences I've shared with clients, staff and fellow volunteers have had a long lasting impact on me.
 


—Christine Soon, Bruce House volunteer
Wish List
  
Bruce House is always looking for items to make  client's life a little bit easier.  Can you make our wishes come true?
 
Gift cards for Loblaws, Tim Hortons, Giant Tiger, Shoppers or Walmart (a beautiful gift to brighten up the holidays!)
Socks for men and women
Mittens and gloves for men and women.
 
Please contact jill@brucehouse.ca with any questions around donations. Thank you so much!
The Urban Element 
A true friend to Bruce House
 
Every April the Urban Element graciously opens their beautiful space to hold the annual A Taste for Life launch.  They generously give their time and energy to ensure Taste, our key fundraiser is a success.

On November 2nd Urban Element celebrated their 10th Anniversary.  Guests were asked to purchase tickets to enjoy the culinary creations of some of the finest chefs in Ottawa with all proceeds being donated to four local charities, including Bruce House.  

We are so grateful to have people like Carley and Oliver Schelck , who truly understand the importance of a healthy community and are so encouraging of the excellent care we provide our clients. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
 
Community Generosity  
 
 
A warm thank-you to MLO weekend for your continued support of Bruce House.  MLO2015 Keven Allen, also a Bruce House volunteer, chose Bruce House as this year's charity.   We wish MLO2016, Jay Blackshire, an amazing year representing his community.
 
 
Wonderful support from the Gilmour Inn, who hosted two themed fundraiser for Bruce House and raised over $1100.
 
The reason I chose Bruce House is because my cousin is HIV + and he was going into a dark place in his mind and body and it was a place like Bruce House that helped him, guide him and made him want to continue living. I'm a very thankful to organizations like Bruce House because if it wasn't for places like you guys I may have not have my cousin today.
—Sergio Vazquez-Gilmour Inn owner.
 

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