Celebrating and overcoming adversity: Mother's Day at Family Tree - InfoNews

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Celebrating and overcoming adversity: Mother's Day at Family Tree

The Family Tree Centre is for mothers and families and organizers would soon like to create more programming that includes fathers.
May 14, 2017 - 8:30 AM

'I DON'T FEEL HOPELESS OR HELPLESS ANYMORE.'

KAMLOOPS – Today is Mother’s Day and a local organization is celebrating moms who have overcome adversity, be it through substance use or recovery, poverty, isolation or violence, and are on the path to a healthier and happier life with their kids.

Family Tree is a non-profit family resource organization that uses peer-to-peer support and community building to help mothers and families in need of a helping hand. The grassroots organization has been around for 11 years.

Take a short walk down the stairs, be sure to duck to dodge the low ceiling, and you’ll find the donation room. On the wall-to-wall shelves are kids clothing, baby furniture, toys and an array of material necessities for families. Participants are free to take what they need from the room.

Jenifer Jones, now a staffer at Family Tree, started as a participant in the program when she moved to Kamloops to get clean.

When she arrived with her family, they had nothing. Second hand stores were an expense Jones couldn't afford, so she got clothing from the donation room.

Jones says the Mothers for Recovery program – one of the resources offered by Family Tree – is not like any other program she knows of.

“Early recovery is a rollercoaster of emotions,” she says. “You can cry, yell or brag. Here, you really can do whatever you need to do.”

Substance use and recovery is often misunderstood, especially when it happens in families. It affects many, and staffers at Family Tree say mothers are no exception.

“I didn’t use drugs because of my kids or in spite of my kids. My love for my kids had nothing to do with my drug use,” Jones says. “Being around people who could understand that I was a good mom, but I had this problem I couldn’t kick, builds you up in a way that nothing else really does. I don’t know where I’d be without these supports.”

By accessing all the services she could, Jones made huge personal strides.

“I was a mess when I first got here, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was a shell of a human, I didn’t know how to live. I didn’t know why I felt the way I did or why I felt so bad,” she says.

Jones knew she wanted to get better, but didn’t know how. That’s where the resources came in.

“After that, I started finding myself slowly but surely,” Jones says with a smile. “I don’t feel hopeless or helpless anymore.”

The organization seems to be a community of support and encouragement. Participation and accountability boosts participants up and pushes all to do better.

Today, at the second annual Mother’s Day brunch, the group is recognizing participants who are excelling and have put a considerable amount of work into their lives.

“All of the women who come here are really amazing moms. When you believe in them and encourage them, they show you just how amazing they are,” Jones says.

Drop In days at Family Tree are hectic. Through word of mouth there are new participants almost daily.

“It’s a beautiful thing what happens here,” Jones says. “It’s like home, like going to your sister’s for coffee.”

The Family Tree Centre, located at 657 Seymour Street, is a non-profit organization that serves mothers and families in Kamloops.
The Family Tree Centre, located at 657 Seymour Street, is a non-profit organization that serves mothers and families in Kamloops.

The Drop In program runs Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kids play while parents build a support network with each other, access child development experts, get connected to local resources, meet with counselors, take part in workshops and access the donation room. 

With all non-profits, funding is a huge challenge. A big improvement would be an additional staff member.

“We are hitting a point where we will almost have to start capping things and putting limits on things,” Susan Wright, executive director says.

“You don’t ever want to tell someone there’s nothing you can do for them. I don’t do it well. It’s devastating. How do you pick and choose who deserves help? Jones says.

There are no fees to access the Mothers for Recovery support group, the Mothers for Recovery mentorship program or the Drop In sessions. Free child care is provided while in a workshop, or session on site.

Between Jan. 1 and May 12 of this year, 1,357 visitors accessed Family Tree’s services. Numbers are up from 1,223 in the same time period in 2016, according to Wright.

Fundraisers can be helpful, but are difficult to plan with such a small team staff. They are time consuming and “time is a precious commodity” around here, Wright says.

Family Tree is funded by United Way, community gaming grants, the Lions Club and previously by the Christmas Cheer fund.

Anyone interested in helping out can call Family Tree at 250-377-6890 or visit the website. They are always seeking all sizes of clothing, shoes and baby furniture.

Health and educational posters and positive affirmations are posted on the walls at The Family Tree Centre.
Health and educational posters and positive affirmations are posted on the walls at The Family Tree Centre.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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