Building safe spaces with familiar faces

Building safe spaces with familiar faces
by Maritime

She is not famous nor is she a public figure, but Krista Riendeau is a very familiar face at the Spryfield Family Resource Centre in Halifax.

Originally from Michigan, Krista came to Canada in 2006 to complete her degree in Christian Counselling at Kingswood University in Sussex, New Brunswick.  After completing her internship at The Salvation Army and graduating, former Sussex Corps Officer, Major Stan Folkins, connected Krista to the Spryfield Family Resource Centre. What began as a requirement to complete her degree turned into a career that is help others feel welcome in the community.

“I started in the back office and worked my way up. I had my hand in a little bit of everything; because the Family Resource Centre was expanding I got to experience every area. Mostly helping to run the programming, client evaluation, and helping to support the Officers.”

With a degree in counselling, Krista understands that the needs of those who come into the Centre are far more complex than they may appear on the surface.

“During summer, a woman came in and said she needed bus tickets. She was going to bury her son’s father who died by suicide. When she mentioned his name, I was shocked because I knew exactly who he was; he was someone who had been coming to breakfast program. He was so nice, but you would never know what was happening on the inside. People cover up so much.”

It is moments like this that compel Krista to make connections with every person that walks through the door. “When the opportunity presents itself to have a little conversation, I try to. Sometimes it’s the person that you may only ever see once.  They don’t know where to go but they see the shield or someone told them to come to the Centre. They are emotionally beside themselves; you can feel that they are in crisis, so I sit down with them.”

Krista is the first face that clients see when they walk through the door. She connects them with the programs and services offered at the Spryfield Family Resource Centre, but most importantly, she is there to lend an ear and helping hand when someone is in need.

With ten years under her belt, there is no sign of Krista slowing down her pursuits in community outreach. “It’s the mission and the vision behind The Salvation Army that keeps me here; I share the same values as the Army. I like helping people and even if it’s sitting at the front desk. I feel like the visions and missions really line up with what I feel is important in my life.”