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This month Envisage will be host our first Engage event, to share about “why, who and how” Envisage serves. This event is a first step for anyone interested in volunteering, but anyone interested in the work of Envisage is invited! Attendees will learn to respond with God’s compassion to anyone facing a difficult pregnancy situation.

The story below is about an amazing woman, who was part of our Envisage team several years ago. Her story is one example of how volunteering can impact our community – and our own lives – in an amazing way!

Emily’s story is really about what happens when we “engage”.

I am one of the lucky people in our community who has been part of the ministry of Envisage (formerly Barrie Pregnancy Resource Centre). It has played a monumental part in our family’s life and connection to our community. We are so grateful for the unexpected path that was laid out for us. 

My husband Brandon and I were married in 2011. We had decided to start trying to have a family fairly soon after marriage, but we weren’t having much success. One morning at church there was a note in the bulletin about Envisage Pregnancy Services needing volunteers. In our current state I was drawn to anything about babies and pregnancy so I thought I would check it out.

“Volunteering at Envisage was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Volunteering at Envisage was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I had the opportunity to be there for women in a crisis situation when they sometimes literally had no one. The thought of someone bringing a child into the world alone, was something I hadn’t considered before and certainly wasn’t ok with. I eventually became a Certified Doula through Childbirth International and did my practical experience and mentoring through Envisage. With my doula certification I could be a valuable support to these women during childbirth education, birth and postpartum.

When I decided to volunteer I thought I would be giving back but I feel that my experience there actually gave my life so much value and character. Eventually as we were still having trouble conceiving a child of our own and had decided to move on to adoption, it became really hard for me to be able to serve the women at Envisage. I was so sad about this, but after two years being part of Envisage, it was time to move on. 

We eventually did get chosen by the grace of God to adopt a sweet little girl. 

I then began volunteering with an organization through our church called Hearts to Hands, which connects people, service and donations in our church with organizations in our community. From my time at Envisage, I knew that a lack of housing was one challenge faced by many women and families. From my time at Envisage I had also become familiar with Redwood Park Communities which provides transitional housing and support for women and children fleeing domestic violence. I brought Redwood to the attention of the director of Hearts to Hands, and so the relationship began.

My husband started to connect with the director of Redwood because they were both builders. They started working on projects together and slowly formed the idea and partnership for what is now Community Builders. I laugh because their mutual love for building and serving our community began with their meeting at the Redwood family skating party at the Barrie City Hall.

Fast forward a few years later we were blessed with adopting another little baby, a boy this time and we moved into a bigger house in Minesing. We started renting our basement to Redwood through their Second Suites program and have had about 11 families call our place home while waiting for their permanent housing. I also contacted Kathy at Envisage to let her know we had a beautiful empty guest room and if she ever came across a pregnant woman who needed a safe place for a while, that we had a place for her. This never ended up working out for a client of Envisage, but one day we got an email. 

Kathy knew of a teenage girl who needed a safe place to live during a difficult time in her life. The next day we met her and the following day she moved in. She was a blessing and a part of our family for a year and a half and it all happened because of our connection with Envisage. 

“It all happened because of our connection with Envisage”

Now I find myself accidentally (or not) experienced supporting women in our community for the past 7 years.  I have recently started a business called Fleur-ish, which is a special event floral studio that will employ, train and support women with barriers to employment. I have seen what overwhelming life circumstances can do to strong and vibrant women and my goal is to provide our community with a service that is needed, as well as an opportunity for these women to discover their strengths and rebuild their confidence in a therapeutic environment. I look forward to our story continuing to intertwine with Envisage and maybe even providing an employment opportunity to one of their clients in the future.

Envisage has had a huge part in growing our family and businesses over the last 7 years. I would encourage anyone to get involved and connected with your community because you never know what may come of it. 

For more information on Fleur-ish go to our website at www.fleurishbarrie.com or follow us on social media @fleurishbarrie.

If you are interested in learning how you can be part of Envisage, join our Engage event! Contact cd@envisage.ca or 705-739-7280.