Posted by Malcolm Rust on Feb 02, 2018
Sherry Ball : Speaker 31 Jan 2018
"Before coming to Fresh Start I was homeless—sleeping on the floors of random houses and addicted to drugs without any hope of living. I was seven months pregnant before I was given any hope of being able to keep my baby. In the summer of 2009, I made the best choice of my life by going to treatment and then leaving everything I knew to move hours away to live at the Fresh Start group home where I was given the chance to fight for my life and the life of my child. A FRESH START"

Eight women and ten babies are currently living at the residence supported by Fresh Start Maternity Supports in St. Thomas. They have experienced trauma, have complex needs, have experienced addictions, have been in contact with the law or have mental health needs.  High needs indeed. Sherry Ball, Executive Director said they receive an average of 9 more applications every day! When there are no openings at Fresh Start - one of only three such facilities in the Province - attempts are made to settle them elsewhere or at least to provide them with local support.  Often, the young mothers stay in the residence until their babies are 8 months and then they transition to supportive care apartments which are fully furnished where they have daily contacts with staff or other health care professionals for about a year.  Self-care and life skills are mandatory programs taught by staff of Fresh Start or other community services or Fanshawe students. Everyone wants them to succeed as they work towards a better future.  Support is offered for 6 months after they move into their own places. The staff of 4 with 6 more relief staff, together with volunteers provide these services 24/7.  About 80% of their $350,000 budget comes from donations by individuals or groups.
Happy Fins: Since 1985 the club has collected $5 donations for Rotary International in celebration of good things in our lives. Currently they go to the Annual Programs Fund and are credited to the donor who will receive a receipt for income tax purposes.
Stew Shouldice (1) Amazed at the programs provided in this community
Ron Somerville (2) Thanking Sherry. Glad to have brother-in-law Jim at the club today.
Malcolm Rust (2) Remembering Sherry as a figure skater at 1992 Olympics & her work with adolescents                at TTC
Trish Shouldice (2) Stew`s birthday this week; Enjoyed granddaughter Millie (21 months) playing hide   and seek
Jennifer Babcock (2) Glad to be back at club; Contract has been signed to finish the retirement home.
Brenda Merrifield (1) Enjoyed a visit from the Kingston Trio including baby Ella MacRae.
Photos: Trudy Kanellis
Pat Baker with Sherry Ball.     Brenda Merrifield with President Trish