The pandemic has been filled with stories of sorrow and loss, but for three women served by Epic Opportunities it has been a time of hope and coming together.
This past December, Jacqueline welcomed new roommates Catherine and Diane into the south Winnipeg house she calls home. While people move all the time, this particular move was something special for the three women involved.
Jacqueline and Diane had been roommates for about five years until health issues forced Jacqueline to move out of the apartment they shared several years ago. The two maintained a close friendship during the years that followed and often talked about the possibility of living together again when circumstances allowed. Catherine was introduced to the mix a few years ago when she and Diane moved into an apartment together and later got to know Jacqueline when she visited.
Late last year Jacqueline’s then roommate moved out of the home they shared, and Jacqueline began searching for a new roommate. As fate would have it, Catherine and Diane were looking to move out of the apartment they shared and into a house. Wouldn’t it be great, they said to each other, if they could all move in together?
The only problem was the timing. It was the middle of the pandemic and provincial health restrictions at the time made any kind of change in living arrangements problematic. In addition, there wasn’t much time to get all the necessary government approvals required for such a change to happen.
But where there’s a will there’s a way. Within just a few short weeks Epic Opportunities secured all the necessary government approvals and staff were able to move Catherine and Diane and their belongings into their new home with Jacqueline. There was even time to set up a tree and decorate the house for Christmas, causing Catherine to remark: “It’s a Christmas miracle.”
Coordinator Mallory Mitchell says such a move will often take months to coordinate because of the number of people and agencies involved. But she says Epic Opportunities staff went above and beyond to make it happen because of how important it was to the three women involved and the fact it was an opportunity to bring people served by the organization closer together when so many have been isolated because of the pandemic.
“Everyone on the team from the frontline staff to the coordinators and the managers knew how important it was for these ladies to be together. It was all hands on deck and everyone knew what needed to be done to make this happen. Everybody was on the same page to make sure it happened,” she says, adding social workers were a huge help in advocating for the move to happen.
Jacqueline says she feels blessed to be able to share a home with two people she considers not just roommates but friends.
“They’re very nice and helpful to me. Catherine helps me and Diane does too. It’s nice to know they are here to help me,” she says.
For Catherine it has literally been a dream come true. She had long dreamed about one day living in a house of her own. To be able to share that dream with two friends makes it even more special.
“I’m happy to be here,” she says. “I’m really, really happy in my life now. It’s such a big difference. The place is wonderful, and everything around here is great.”
“It’s really cool,” Diane adds.
Cool indeed. Since they’ve moved in together the three women have been able to celebrate each of their respective birthdays together. They’ve also been able to enjoy “pizza parties” and hold regular movie nights. Diane says she is particularly looking forward to spending time in their backyard this summer and being able to use the barbecue and fire pit that are there.
“The backyard is great,” she says.
While Catherine loves her new home, she says being able to share it with two people she’s close to makes it even more special. The fact that they’ve been there to support each other has made it much easier to cope with what’s happening in the world right now.
“It’s made it much easier to get through the pandemic,” she explains.
That’s music to the ears of Mitchell.
“I am so happy for them. They’re so compatible. You walk into their home and it’s such a positive place, even during a pandemic. Everyone is smiling and happy.”