Leticia Racine started with YWCA Regina last year as a Resident Support Worker, but she was not new to the YWCA community. Leticia first came to YWCA in 2015 in need of a safe, sober place to stay. Just four years later Leticia was hired to help other women like herself in transition. Now every day on the job her own healing journey enhances Leticia’s abilities to empathise with her clients and support them on their way. Leticia Racine lives the YWCA Regina philosophy of “Here for Her”.  This is Leticia’s story…

I’m grateful every single day to have a job that I have, to be serving my community, and helping my people, and sincerely connecting with individuals that have been, or, that are in the same place that I used to be. I can truly relate to them and I have compassion for them.

I know that nobody is hopeless; nobody is a write-off. There’s always hope and if I can bring that hope in a position that I have, then I’ve done my job.

There’s an enormous need right now. There’s a homelessness issue but a lot of people don’t see and being frontline I see it every time I go to work whether it be addictions, or trouble with the landlords, or trouble with finances, a lot of its poverty, intergenerational trauma. We can go deeper, but it all kind of wraps up in and becomes homelessness and so that’s what we deal with every single day.

Whether you see homelessness or not, or are aware of it, it exists. It exists right here in Regina.

You never know what could happen to you and you would want somebody to be there for you… If your loved one was in need, and you didn’t know where they were, and they needed help right away, you would want that support.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to say: ‘Yeah, we have a bed available. Come on in. You’re safe here. You can access everything that we have here.’ That’s an awesome feeling to be able to help somebody. You just can’t do it all the time with the resources that we have available to us.

I really feel like the Creator has put me here for a reason. It’s part of my healing journey because I’m in a position where I serve and I think that’s probably one of the most rewarding positions to be in, to be able to serve. Right now, I work at Kikinaw Residence and I’m a frontline worker basically. I’m also a shelter counsellor and I serve women who are dealing with homelessness, a lot of women coming from the streets and just needing a safe place to be, a safe place to sleep, and a safe place to get on their feet and we offer the supports for someone who’s looking to start over again if they want. I also counsel people. I support them. I advocate for them and I stand beside them. I want to support them and help them to achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve.

I’ve been an alcoholic and a practicing IV user, I was a drug user. I did live on the streets as a youth. I was involved in crime. I’ve been there. I’ve struggled through the identity issues, the sixties scoop. I’ve suffered from the effects of residential schools. Both my parents went to residential school and I was adopted out and raised in an alcoholic home and abandoned at 13 on the steps of child services. So, I’ve been through a lot in my life. It has strengthened me. It’s given me wisdom and depth and understanding and empathy. Knowing that one day I would make it out of there, just having a hope and a vision for myself of how I would live one day, just a glimmer was enough to get me out. But I didn’t do it alone.

I ended up at the front office of the YWCA at MAP – My Aunt’s Place – a shelter in the community – and the first call I made I was able to speak to a woman and she said: ‘Yes, there’s a space available.’ I needed a space. I was starting out. I had nothing. I had a backpack. I’d left everything back where I come from and was starting over from scratch.

They welcomed me in, and I utilized every service they had there, which was a lot.

My healing journey kind of took off from there. I was able to stay for a month there… My Aunt’s Place, and utilizing the services at the YWCA, was a steppingstone.

I wasn’t on the streets. I didn’t have to resort to what a lot of women had to survive on the streets, especially with the amount of women that are going missing nowadays – what we’re facing with First Nations women, and women in general, the vulnerable sector. They’re facing violence and they’re facing a lot of really scary things on the street and I didn’t have to do that.

Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have that support; if I didn’t have a safe and warm place to be? If I didn’t have that supportive environment when I was so vulnerable? It really let me grow and be myself. Be angry when I had to be angry. Be sad when I wanted to be sad. Be happy and they celebrated alongside of me. In every milestone of my sobriety, they were there, and they celebrated it with me.

It was just a good environment to grow in, to feel like I could grow and be safe and not feel like I’m pressured to do anything. I was just able to advance on my own timing. I wasn’t pressured or felt like I needed to do something every single day. If I needed to take a day off, I took a day off. It was a healthy environment… If I had a bad day I could just go into the office and say: ‘Listen, this is what I’m going through. I just need to vent, or I need to see a doctor. I need to see a dentist.’

And then they helped me get a place and apartment.

They continued to support me while I was in the community getting started… They didn’t just let me go out the door and say: ‘See you later.’ They were there continuously until I felt strong enough where I didn’t need their services anymore.

Four years later I’m working at the Y – same place that I had got the steppingstone from.

If I can give hope to somebody else, to anybody, to one person, then I’ve done my job. I fulfilled my purpose here… And that’s rewarding being able to help somebody… so it is part of my healing journey really to be able to help and give back… Being able to connect with these women, and them reflecting back at me where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, is humbling.

I’m just forever grateful for the YWCA. I can’t say enough good things about it… It’s an environment where I can grow professionally and personally. Supportive environment to work there, and being able to serve, and being able to help other women, there’s nothing better than to see someone grow, and that’s what the YWCA offers your community.

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