The Tree of Hope is lighting up lives

Some may say that Canada is cold, freezing even. However, we know that it’s anything but. And we’re not just talking about the spectacular Kelowna summers. We’re referring to the warm hearts shown, and the warm smiles distributed so freely by the Kelowna community. 

Everywhere you turn, there is someone doing good. A neighbour plowing another’s snow-laden driveway. A white-haired man and his wife, sitting on their porch, handing out candy to passersby with gentle smiles. Drivers respectfully pulling over for sirens on route to help someone in need. Firefighters that operated tirelessly during the wildfires to protect their Kelowna residents. The list is endless. It is little surprise, then, that The Tree of Hope fund-raising campaign has resonated with the warm-hearted community of Kelowna.

The Tree of Hope has become a symbol of inspiration and has been #raisinghope in the community for 24 years! In partnership with the Landmark District, TD Canada Trust, and the Stober Foundation, Raising Hope 2021 shines the light on the conversation needed around “Women at Risk.” This year they have partnered with NOW Canada and Karis Support Society for the common goal of raising hope for vulnerable women and children in the community. Thanks to the Tree of Hope, every dollar donated to these organisations will be matched by the Stober family (up to the value of $100 000)! These donations will be used to invest in the lives of the women and children supported by these phenomenal non-profits.

Both NOW Canada and Karis Support Society offer counselling, safe housing, life skills, access to therapy, and sustainable, individualised care for vulnerable women. These are safe places where women are nurtured, nourished, and supported until they have successfully transitioned into mainstream society. 

It’s quick and easy to DONATE to this initiative that we are so honoured to be part of this year. Kelowna is once again coming together in a spirit of community and celebration, and we give utmost gratitude to those that have already donated or given of their time to help – you are changing lives!

Glimpses into a day in the life at Karis

Recovery and healing happen in many ways at Karis. It doesn’t simply come about by daily class and program alone. At times the process of healing and recovery may not seem obvious at all, but it’s at play in all that we do. Art, exercise and celebrations are all at the heart of holistic healing. 

We have a multi-faceted approach that requires commitment from all involved. Some elements are more structured in nature, while others just feel like good old fun, serenity and joy.  

Art is part of our tapestry. The artworks that adorn the walls of Karis are not only pops of colour, they are pops of new-found confidence and allow a safe space for self-expression. When one is creating art, there are numerous positive forces at play. Our participants get to be playful again, to feel free and escape in a positive, productive and rewarding way. Art is never right or wrong. It just IS. 

The events at Karis are more commonly referred to as celebrations. Because healing is a celebration. Participants get to attend heartwarming baby showers with gifts and balloons, participate in Easter egg hunts, delicious Christmas lunches and the likes of the annual Nuit En Blanc. There is always a new celebration to look forward to.

The Dream Project is a constant within the Karis program. Participants are introduced and exposed to a variety of career opportunities. It has the further goal of helping the women of Karis rediscover their neglected dreams and interests. Help, hope and sustainable self-sufficiency are at the cornerstone of this phenomenal project.

Exercise is a further must-do at Karis. Physical wellness brings not just health benefits, but also helps to foster a positive self-image. Mentally, exercise is a space to escape negative thought patterns, create a commitment mentality, community and grit. Plus it brings with it natural feel-good endorphins. Our wonderful volunteers offer all sorts of exercise, from cardio to zen-like yoga sessions.

A day in the life at Karis is a sparkle of many diverse things. All of which bring healing, love and joy. We hope you enjoyed just a brief look into a day in our lives.

Raising hope in 2021

We are excited to announce that together with NOW Canada, Karis Support Society has been chosen as joint beneficiary of the annual TREE OF HOPE campaign for 2021.

The giant led-lit Christmas tree is erected each year in the Landmark District, Kelowna and stands as a beacon of hope and goodwill in our community.  It is more than just a holiday symbol. It is also an opportunity to usher in a season of compassion, generosity, and gratitude, all while educating ourselves on issues that face our community and charities that exist to address them. We call this initiative within the celebration, Raising Hope.

In partnership with the Landmark District, TD Canada Trust, and Stober Family Foundation, RAISING HOPE 2021 seeks to highlight, address, and elevate the conversation of “WOMEN AT RISK’.

Together the work of NOW Canada and Karis is focussed on supporting women to transition from a life of addiction, abuse, exploitation and mental health challenges to a life in long-term recovery and self-efficiency. 

This year highlights the importance of supporting local. It has been a challenging year for many in our community, we saw more vulnerable women, youth and children need our programs than ever before. 

Thanks to the TREE OF HOPE, the impact of every dollar donated will be DOUBLED up to $100,000! If you are planning to give this year, please give local. The donations received through the TREE OF HOPE will become an invaluable investment, #RaisingHope for vulnerable women and children in our community.

Change of season brings reflection

We love where we live. Kelowna has a unique richness that can be referenced in numerous ways. There is a richness of beauty with every change of season, as mother nature treats us to new visual delights. As Fall has arrived, we have admired how the leaves change from vibrant shades of green to warm hues of yellow and orange. Our immediate surroundings are rich with mountains, lakes, and pristine beaches – they are settings that aid the healing process. However, the richest thing about Kelowna is the immense sense of warmth and community. Time and time again, we witness the residents of Kelowna band together not just in the good times but in the challenging times too. At Karis, we feel privileged to experience this coming together of people firsthand. 

Our blessings are multifaceted, and as the season changes, we reflect even more closely on what these blessings are. 

Our volunteers. 

Karis’s volunteers come in many forms. From businesses to school goers to retired folks, all our volunteers give of themselves selflessly and with an infectious positivity of spirit. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you for bringing even more smiles and laughter to our Karis home – we are forever grateful.

Our participants.

We are honoured to witness healing and transformation in motion. Our participants are some of the bravest, strongest, and committed women we have ever met. They show us that anything is possible, even in the face of some of the most significant adversity. They are the proof that silver linings do exist. What a privilege it is to be part of their journeys. 

Our donors.

Without our donors, Karis would not be able to do the work it does. Our donors give generously and with so much heart. Our gratitude for their life-changing impact goes beyond words.

Our staff.

We are like a family. A community of like-minded people who are driven to do the same thing: transform the lives of our participants. This is done with big hearts, generous souls, and an unwavering commitment to the support of the women in our program. 

We look forward to what this next season brings. We have no doubt it will be filled with joy and even further blessings for us to reflect on in the months ahead.  

It’s never too late

That brave first step is where the healing journey begins. 

Karis is here to support, guide, and nurture participants’ return to the world within a safe, supportive environment. Addiction and mental health are often brought on by past and/or current trauma. Through the Karis 3-stage program, participants can learn, heal and go on to genuinely appreciate being alive and feeling well. Karis supports women (and their children) as they walk through the obstacle of their addiction to ultimately achieve a well-rounded life.

Karis provides the building blocks participants need to live independently in the world by focusing on empowerment, goals, and self-sufficiency skills and tools. The healing process is not, and should never be, rushed. In the First-Stage, participants are encouraged to focus solely on recovery through daily recovery specific classes, group facilitation and on-site counselling. However, the foundation tools and skills needed for the Semi-Independent Program are also learnt.

In the Semi-Independent Program (singles and parenting) stage, going back to school and finding employment are encouraged and ongoing support is offered through the Aftercare program.  Aftercare workers provide encouragement and advice as part-time work, or school, is pursued in the gentle shift towards independent community living.

Once successfully transitioned into the community, aftercare workers still serve as advocates and support for participants. Structured support systems outside of Karis allow participants to build on the robust and solid foundations they have developed.

Participants learn relapse prevention, but more than that, they have the necessary toolkit required for interpersonal skills, relationship skills, and financial literacy. Through community collaborations, participants can go on to receive secondary and employment training.

You see? Never give up. With a self-directed Care Plan and a designated key worker to assist with adherence to the plan, a meaningful life is always possible. 

We believe in you. You can believe in yourself too. We’ll show you how.

What does overcoming addiction look like?

At Karis, we have the great privilege of seeing what dedication to recovery looks like. Overcoming addiction is by no means a linear, simple journey. It is one with many challenges that require our women to dig deep. It’s about keeping on keeping on, even when growing weary or when addiction tugs. 

So, no, it’s not a holiday, and it’s certainly not a walk in the park. HOWEVER. It is one-hundred percent worth it. Because do you know what overcoming addiction look like?

Let us try to paint a visual picture.

1) Renewed families

It looks like a mother and child laughing, making memories, and (most importantly) staying together! Where children are involved, Karis is dedicated to keeping mom and baby together, to keeping families together. It’s what is best for our women, their children, and the community at large. Destructive patterns can be broken. New positive trajectories can be created; you do not need to be a victim of your upbringing or trauma. We see it with our own eyes. So, please trust that it’s possible. 

2) Renewed freedom 

Freedom means more than just being free from addiction. It’s far broader than that. It looks like joy and renewed confidence as participants realize they are free to reintegrate into and contribute to society. It’s the glow of freedom that flushes on cheeks as participants find their true selves. It’s eyes that are free from guilt and addiction’s shackles. It’s slow walks through nature, again noticing and appreciating the little things and moments that make souls dance. 

3) Renewed connection

Saying goodbye to addiction gives our women new hellos. We witness trust and meaningful connections being formed with the people of Karis as women move through the program. This sense of connection then extends into the world, both socially and professionally. Women become part of the solution by bringing their skills and clear mindset to the fore. We see the pride and the happiness that renewed connection brings.

4) Renewed love

Once the dust settles and clarity comes, we witness participants begin to love again. This love is not just extended to friends and family. There is also self-love that is taught and grows during the Karis program. We have all heard it before, but we get to see firsthand just how important self-love is in the healing process. Yes, love yourself first, and all those loved ones around you will benefit.

From our heart to yours. We see you.

Volunteers are our rock

We couldn’t do what we do without them.

Karis is built on many things. It’s built on hope, dedication, resilience, bravery, and love. It’s also built on a solid foundation of individuals that come in many forms. One just needs to walk around Karis to witness the incredible staff, participants, and volunteers that give this home (because that is what it is) its uniquely warm, loving energy.

It goes without saying that our participants are some of the strongest women we know. It takes an immense amount of courage to seek help and to love yourself enough to want change not just for oneself, but in many instances, for one’s children too. To stick your head above the dense, overwhelming haze of addiction and want to better yourself and your situation is indeed courageous. 

However, even the bravest of participants needs the love and dedication of our volunteers. Karis is blessed with a bustle of gallant volunteers doing their thing in, around, and for the organization. With broad smiles and big hearts, they selflessly go about changing lives through their contributions. We are eternally grateful.

Quotes from just some of our many volunteers:

“Sometimes, you win. Sometimes you learn.” – Char, Karis sparkle-maker.

Char… one of our amazing volunteers

Char has been a part of our Karis community for as long as we can remember.  Many have met her and shared in the many jokes she loves to tell.  When the pandemic hit, Karis had to close doors to so many amazing volunteers and friends, losing out on the many services our generous community provided both in class and around the building. As the months progressed, Karis needed to step up our cleaning and sanitization to keep in line with pandemic regulations and ever-changing protocols.  Char stepped in, and she has been a lifesaver!

“Volunteering at Karis Support Society allows me to witness the hope, pride, and confidence the participating women gain through the guidance and compassion of the dedicated staff.” – Colleen, much loved Karis volunteer.

“I love volunteering at Karis. I love the absolute sincere, heartfelt dedication the staff feels for the women who live there. I love the bravery, strength, and determination of the women. They make me feel empowered just by being around them and knowing the challenges they have and facing. When I teach an exercise class, they make me feel that I’m making a difference. When I leave Karis, I feel joyful and empowered. I feel proud to know these brave warriors.” – Alyson, exercise class volunteer.

To each and every one of our volunteers, thank you from all of us at Karis Support Society.

Comments of Kindness

Deepest gratitude to First West Foundation and the Valley First Community Endowment for the generous contribution of $10,025 towards our Parenting Recovery Program which supports mothers and young babies living in our addiction’s recovery program.

Besides this incredible contribution Valley First has also launched their #CommentsOfKindness Campaign in celebration of their 25 years of giving in our community.  We would LOVE you, our supporters, participants, volunteers and friends to help us reach a further $2,500 or perhaps the final win of $25,000!

For each person that posts a kind comment about KARIS on the Valley First Facebook page or their Instagram page we will receive $25!!

PLEASE post your Comments of Kindness and help us raise funds towards our programs for women in recovery!  Thank you!

Aftercare, there is life.

Karis Support Society’s recovery program for women is different in many ways. One of the primary differentiators is our Aftercare Program. A common misconception is that addiction can be conquered in 21 days. Ever heard the saying: “It takes 21 days to kick a habit”? While there certainly are instances where this is possible, it is rare. Full recovery from a substance use addiction takes closer to 3 years. That is why Karis Support Society is fiercely passionate about our aftercare program. We are there for our participants for the long term. 

Our Aftercare Program is delivered in 3 phases:

PHASE 1: Semi-independent/ on-site aftercare

Upon achieving first stage recovery goals, participants enter into the second stage of recovery in this phase. At this point we support participants with their transition into employment, education, and independent living. We want nothing more than to see our ladies thrive in the world. With self-belief and skills learnt at Karis, success becomes an attainable reality.

PHASE 2: Off-site Aftercare

This is when our participants graduate from on-site living and fly with the wings they have grown, but still with Karis’s support. It’s where solid connections and support in the community are further fostered as participants transition into safe, appropriate, independent living. It’s where all the work towards self-belief, confidence, and clean living really begins to pay off. It’s the time where smiles replace frowns as a new, envisaged life unfolds.

PHASE 3: Alumni

Participants no longer access Aftercare services but continue to maintain their connection to Karis 

through annual social events such as Easter, Celebration, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Karis Support Society is there for those that so desperately need it. For those that want to take their lives back and live fully and wholesomely. It’s possible to be happy and live the life the little girl in you still dreams of. We’ll take your hand. You’ll feel safe and cared for. You’re not in this alone. Take the first step and keep on climbing with our help. Your strength will grow, and you will flourish. Start believing it.

Don’t look back – that’s not where you’re headed. Contact Karis Support Society today and start moving forwards, onwards, and upwards.

Addiction to Sobriety

Anything is possible when you choose to change.

Karis is a not for profit that provides recovery-focused programming for women battling substance misuse. So, seeing our clients not only survive but thrive both physically and emotionally makes our hearts burst with pride. Anyone that has experienced addiction will understand the bravery it takes to seek help. Kay (name changed) is one such brave woman, and we thank her for sharing her story. 

Kay’s commitment to a better life has had an exponential effect on those around her. Not only are her children thriving, but she is touching and aiding others through her teachings of meditation and spirituality group facilitator.

Testimonial by “Kay”

Karis Society Recovery

Date: March 17, 2021

I am so grateful to Karis Support Society for being a safe place to heal my trauma and create a new life for myself. When I went to Karis, I believed I had many psychological disorders and felt like a victim to the circumstances of my life. My self-worth was so low, and for the year prior to arriving at Karis, I was using drugs and drinking alcohol to cope with my reality. My experimentation with drugs and alcohol started at 12 years old and slowly progressed until I finally made a choice to put myself first and move to Karis. 

The staff are so warm and understanding. They treated me with respect and taught me new ways to cope with my feelings. They taught me that feeling is part of life, and I am worthy of love from myself and others. They lifted me up and helped me to experience joy naturally for the first time since I was a child. 

I am now married, have a second child, and my 12-year-old daughter is thriving. I teach meditation and facilitate spirituality groups and see the good in the Universe. I hike and ride my bike for joy. I no longer have any mental health issues or addictive behaviour. I have found balance and live a healthy, holistic lifestyle. 

Karis allowed me to build a strong foundation for the life I have today. They truly have figured out the most graceful way to support women in recovery and with mental health issues. 

Sincerely, 

Kay 

Need help? If Kay could do it, so can you.

Take those brave first steps. 

Contact Karis.

Karis Support Society is a non-profit organization. We provide recovery-focused programming, counselling, and support to vulnerable, at-risk expectant women, women with babies or toddlers, women working towards reunification with their children, and single women with no dependents living in poverty, homelessness, or at-risk of homelessness.

Karis participants are women whose negative experiences have led to substance misuse or mental health challenges, negatively impacting their lives. They are now actively working on personal recovery.

GET HELP. VOLUNTEER. DONATE.