Helping Women Start Over

Terri at volunteer appreciation dinner

Culture shock. Depression. Anger. Life after prison can be a difficult transition.

In Dundas, Ont., The Salvation Army’s Ellen Osler Home, a historic Tudor-style house, offers a safe living environment, life-skills resources, programs and community referrals for federal female parolees as they work toward community reintegration.

“Ellen Osler Home gave me the resources, confidence and strength needed to lead a new and productive life,” says Terri, a former resident. “Every day, I thank God for this opportunity to start over.”

Terri’s Story

“I remember the night of the accident,” says Terri. “My ex-boyfriend and I had been drinking. We hadn’t seen each other for four months and got into the car to ‘talk.’ I was driving over the speed limit when an argument ensued. I was hit in the face and knocked out. The next thing I remember is the paramedics cutting me out of the car.”

Terri was hospitalized for five days with a broken hip and pelvis, broken ribs and a concussion. Sadly, with the impact of the crash, her ex was thrown clear, run over and killed by a passing car that fled from the scene. Following an investigation, Terri was charged with manslaughter and sent to prison.

“With no prior criminal record, and at 51, my life was ruined,” says Terri.

Healing and Positive Growth

A model prisoner, Terri was eventually released to Ellen Osler Home in January 2017.

“When I came to The Salvation Army, I was hopeless and afraid, anxious and isolated,” says Terri. “Unpleasant memories of abusive relationships, alcoholism and flashbacks from the accident had taken their toll on me.”

At Ellen Osler Home Terri learned how to rebuild her boundaries, trust again and surround herself with people who love, support and empower her. After 2 ½ years at the house, Terri has adjusted well to life on the outside.

“It’s important to have a safe place to practise new, healthy habits before you return to real life,” says Terri. “That’s what The Salvation Army did for me. They provided resources every step of the way.”

Today, Terri volunteers at The Salvation Army’s food bank in Hamilton, Ont., tells her story of hope at faith-based programs and is working at her previous employer.

“The Salvation Army is where I gained strength, spirituality and great friends,” says Terri. “I have structure and routine in my life and I’m in a better place now.”