Elizabeth Pierce, executive director at Catholic Family Services of Durham, speaks with a Rose of Durham client. Photo by Luke Mandato

A donation to ShareLife invests in people

By  LUKE MANDATO, Catholic Register Special
  • November 12, 2023

In 1988, the Rose of Durham opened its doors to assist young parents in the Durham Region. What was initially planned to be nothing more than a residential home for young women has turned into a dedicated support hub for all young parents and their children throughout the region.

Now, 35 years later, the Catholic Charities-certified agency continues to aid young parents in need through a multitude of services such as parenting programs, strength-based counselling, providing supplies and teaching life skills.

However, without the initial and continued support from ShareLife, young mothers and fathers in need may have nowhere to turn for help.

“The Rose of Durham got their start because of the funds that ShareLife flowed through Catholic Charities to the individual agencies,” said Elizabeth Pierce, executive director at Catholic Family Services of Durham. “It’s a very simple, honest and accurate answer to say (Rose of Durham) wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the funds that were raised by ShareLife.”

ShareLife is the charitable fundraising arm of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Through donations, ShareLife currently supports more than 35 different social agencies in the Greater Toronto Area, including Catholic Family Services of Durham, which Rose of Durham joined in February 2022.

The transition from Rose of Durham Young Parent Support Services as a unique entity to Rose of Durham Young Parent Division of Catholic Family Services has allowed for a broader umbrella of support that is accessible for young parents.

“It’s strengthened the support that the clients receive. We have specialized pathways now where clients can move between divisions,” said Pierce. “It’s kind of like a superstore, you can get everything you need there as opposed to having to go to all different places.”

Despite the merger taking place just over a year ago, Rose of Durham still relies on support from the community, support like that of ShareLife, to help fund operations. Pierce says there’s no program that exists in the agency that isn’t somehow supported through ShareLife and its donors.

Pierce says the funds supplement more than just essential products.

“Oftentimes people think that we’re just a place that gives babies diapers and formula. We absolutely do, but our focus is really about building capacity and equipping young people to be the best parents they can be,” said Pierce.

This includes a young parent by the name of “Joe” who found himself in need of such support not long ago. Joe is a young parent weighed down by his own past trauma and pain who didn’t intuitively know how to parent to the best of his abilities. Before finding help with Rose of Durham, Joe was unable to see his child unless he was supervised via the Children’s Aid office.

After making progress through parent support counselling, Joe was encouraged to partake in the agency’s intensive attachment program. This program films parents interacting with their babies, and they are then shown where they did well and where they could improve.

As a result of this program, Children’s Aid relaxed its initial protection order, giving Joe another chance at being a more confident father as well as ensuring a healthy father/child bond going forward.

One of the primary reasons donations are so meaningful to support groups such as Catholic Family Services of Durham is that ShareLife shares the same strong Catholic social teachings and core values of both the donors and the organizations it reinforces.

Additionally, the reach ShareLife has over multiple agencies ensures coverage of all areas of community development, going back to its mission to serve the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.

Simply put, Catholics who are in support of seeing their community strengthened and supported can confidently give to ShareLife knowing their contributions are going towards causes they support — and a lot of them.

“For someone who wants to invest in a reputable charity that does really good work that also upholds the core values that are dear to them, then ShareLife is a way to do that without having to do all of that work yourself because it’s already been done for you,” said Pierce.

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