YWCA Regina is Here for Her
We spoke with Nathalie Desjarlais about living in the downtown YWCA Regina residence from 2014 to 2018. Nathalie says she can’t stay away from the YWCA even now when she has a place of her own that she loves. Nathalie likes to visit all her close friends who live and work at the YWCA. This is Nathalie’s story.
When you’re couch surfing, and you don’t have a ‘home’ home, you’re losing your stuff like crazy… You’re always in need, need, need. It’s part of being homeless. You’re going to lose your stuff. People are going to steal.
You get so far into the dumps; it’s hard to climb back out again.
That addiction has a lot to do with it because when I drank, I didn’t care about anything, just drinking, but I used the drinking to cover up my stuff.
I don’t even think about drinking anymore. It’s not even part of my necessity anymore. I can deal with my stuff better. I can calm down a little bit better. Before when I got pissed off that was the reason right there to go and drink right away. I was really bad. I drank really bad.
My sobriety is very important to me.
Now I find my daughters are like: ‘I love you Mom.’ I hear a lot more of that now. ‘I don’t know what I’d do without my mom.’ It’s a good feeling. Before they were embarrassed: ‘We don’t want you here mom. You’re drunk.’ You’d feel like a nobody.
But I decided to stop drinking and that’s where my journey went. I just went to detox and… I thought: ‘Well, what’s going to happen to me now?’ Because I didn’t have a home.
When I got to the Y- holy cow! I actually had the same address for many years. Wow! Instead of having all these different addresses and no photo ID. And once you get the ball rolling at the Y, you get all your ID back, your identity comes back, and then everything else falls into place.
Before that I didn’t know anything about the YWCA. The Y to anybody is the gym, working out, swimming pool. I didn’t know there was residence in there and shelter upstairs.
The Y was just a really amazing place for me. The staff was so caring and understanding.
You get to the Y and it kind of makes you feel like: ‘Oh wow, I am an important person.’
It was that warm, welcome feeling that you get because prior to that, I was couch surfing. I was living here and there I didn’t have structure. My day would be just all over the place. I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping, or even having a bath, or whatever. I had a rough time there for a while.
I finally had my own key, to my own door, to my own little space, as small as it was, I didn’t care. The bed that I have, the roof over my head, along with all the friendly people that were around me. I felt at home… It’s when you put that key into that door, shut the door and it’s your space – you can be yourself.
Most of all it’s all the women that are there to that are my close friends.
I’m just really grateful that the doors opened for me at the time in my life when I really needed it. If it wasn’t for the Y, to be honest, I don’t know where I’d be today. It just so happened that for me the doors open at that time and I stayed.
Outreach provides you with the necessities and the stuff that you need when you move into your place. They’ll also help you with appointments, or advocate for you, also to social services, or to a social worker, or whatever that you need. They’ll take you wherever you need to go. They’re really helpful in that way… soap, towels, whatever. It’s amazing… The Y provides that, provides security and safety.
There’s people like me that actually take it seriously. They want to move on. They want to get help; want to get better. They want to be happy.
I’m enjoying life a lot more. I’m learning to love myself; take care of my self, respecting myself; being my own boss… I’ve learned how to say no and that it’s okay to say no… I have the control now of my life, of my wants, of my needs, not somebody else.
When Nathalie felt ready to leave the residence in 2018, the YWCA Regina Outreach Team helped her on her way. Today Nathalie lives independently in an apartment with one of her daughters.
When I moved out, they helped me with everything; the dishes, my beds; they helped move me. So, they don’t throw you out the door and say you’re on your own. They help you get out so you can make it out there.
I just love my apartment; my own little area; my own little space. I’m really grateful. I’m grateful to be on my own now.