New Program at Edmonton’s Cornerstone Residence Designed to Empower Women

by Alberta

Since 2003, The Salvation Army’s Cornerstone Residence has been a place where women in need can live safely, while trying to manage personal struggles and work towards a better life.

The recently renovated building offers 20 furnished apartments for up to one year for women who qualify through Alberta Health Services, Housing Outreach & Stabilization Team (HOST) services, or direct referrals.

An immediate need was recently identified to create a program to help the women develop skills, build confidence, and access available resources that would support them through their mental and emotional struggles.

“We had spiritual care involved and we’ve always had a chaplain at the facility who would be part of the care team, but we just needed more support for the women,” said Vanessa Sim, Assistant Executive Director at The Salvation Army Centre of Hope.

A donation to The Salvation Army from James H. Brown, in honour of his late wife Jeanie Brown, was an opportunity to help further develop the programming at Cornerstone. Jeanie was a strong supporter of many charities and James felt this project would be an extension of the love she had for helping others.

“In April 2020, the renovations were completed, and the suites are now fresh, updated, cozy and clean. Most importantly, the suites bring a feeling of dignity,” Salvation Army Cornerstone Manager, Jennifer Den Ouden said.

In addition to the renovations, James H. Brown’s generous donation included funding for a new program called Wings; an individualized program that offers a holistic approach to help the women succeed in their goals. It also made it possible to hire more staff to develop and implement the new programs.

“It’s a four-month program that we keep running three times a year,” Sim said.

This allows new residents coming into Cornerstone a chance to step-in to the individualized learning environment without feeling behind. The introductory course is mandatory for all residents, and from there they can choose classes such as cooking, crafting, and life skills – or if the women have the desire, there are classes that deal with grief and loss or shame.

Last month, an event was held honouring the Brown family for their life-changing donation with the unveiling of two plaques. One placed outside of the main entrance of the building, and the other will be hung outside of the common room now called Jeanie’s Place.

The Wings program has recently completed its first year, and with some hiccups due to COVID-19, the women who are enrolled in the program are still working hard towards the completion of all six modules.

“We have not yet had anyone complete all of the courses and modules, however, when someone does, we have a butterfly painting, certificate, and will have a more formal celebration for the achievement,” Den Ouden said.

A support network created between residents and staff help the women achieve confidence and self-esteem while learning coping strategies. The structure created by introducing routine, daily living skills, and the awareness of community resources helps the women succeed.

Thank you to James H. Brown and his family for making such a generous donation that will help give hope to these women and guide them through their journey to a better life.