What does it mean to be a parent?

Anyone who has given birth to a child is on a journey. A journey is never just about a smooth, tarred road with breath-taking views. Rather, a journey is about some bumps and unexpected turns. Sometimes the destinations are not what we dreamed of, and parenthood is hard regardless – even if your home life and financial circumstances are secure and prosperous. Now imagine taking on parenthood when your circumstances are a daily challenge of financial struggles, addiction, relationship challenges, and maybe even abuse. 

This is where the Karis Parenting Recovery Program can help. There is nothing more rewarding for us than to see struggling mothers and mothers-to-be embrace and succeed at parenting. It takes some time, clear guidance, love, warmth and the learning of key tools, and Karis will help every step of the way. Just like a child, it takes baby steps to begin walking with confidence. And that’s what we do – give the tools to walk with confidence while holding the heart and hand of your child.

So, what stages are involved in the Parenting Recovery Program?


Expectant women and moms with babies are supported with teachings and tools for parenting through recovery. The recovery-focused program offers life skills and development opportunities for women who are pregnant, parenting, or in process of having their children returned to their care. As a support-based program, by providing these opportunities, participants are able to confidently strive towards self-sufficiency and ultimately independence.


This is when participants have made progress in building their foundation for their Recovery Capital and have achieved personal and recovery goals suitable for supporting themselves and their children in recovery. Mothers and their children move to a two-bedroom suite where they each have their own bedroom, as well as their own bathroom and living area. In this stage of programming, in addition to still receiving support through group facilitation, participants are supported by their key worker/aftercare worker in pursuit of part-time work or school and their transition towards independent living in the community.


Karis offers offsite aftercare for mothers with their children who have completed all of the requirements and have successfully transitioned into the community. An aftercare worker serves as an advocate and a support during this transition process. By assisting the participant in setting up support systems outside Karis, the aftercare worker ensures the participant is able to build on the foundation of their recovery capital built while at Karis.


Every participant will develop a self-directed Care Plan (including short and long terms goals) and will meet with a designated key worker who will assist you to follow through with the plan. The Program will facilitate the building of Recovery Capital which will include self-directed goals of relapse prevention, effective interpersonal and relationship skills, recreational therapy, financial literacy and more. Through collaboration with community partners Karis is able to provide connection to secondary education and employment training. The Parenting Recovery Program will also include positive parenting and attachment programs.

The importance of children and mothers staying together.

We recognize the importance of keeping mothers and their children together. We take your hand on this journey so that it can be smoother, and when the bumps do cross your path, you’ll be able to keep your balance. It’s a combination of support, love, and learning the tools. 

The first big step is making the decision to address your addiction, and thereafter, it’s about baby steps towards sobriety and successful parenting.

Stigmas hurt

We’ve all heard the word, but have we suffered at the hand of it?

The definition of a ‘stigma’ is a ‘mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.’ 

Just reading that definition alone highlights how harsh and damaging applying stigmas is. Would you want a stigma attached to you? I think the answer is obvious.

Beyond its definition, stigmas can be further broken down into three main types:

  1. Stigma associated with mental illness
  2. Stigma associated with physical deformation
  3. Stigma attached to identification with a particular race, ethnicity or ideology

Of particular relevance to Karis is number one on this list. The Stigma often placed on people (in our case women) can lead to them avoiding or resisting help. It’s difficult to admit you have addiction issues or mental illness if you are then judged by friends, colleagues or family. It’s like being placed in an additional box when you’re already battling to escape the entrapment of addiction.

We are all human. If we start with that basic concept and work back from there, then we’d learn to be kinder and more understanding to those fighting the grips of drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a disease. If a woman has taken the bold, overwhelming step to admit she needs help, we should take her hand in ours and whisper words of encouragement and support. 

When you are feeling overwhelmed, scared, alone and helpless, it can take a simple, judgement, down-the-nose stare from a passerby to push you over the edge. Likewise, a kind word, gentleness and no judgement can push women battling addiction to take the all-important brave first step. 

We should all take the time to listen. Have you considered what that woman living on the streets has gone through? Yes, we can say, ‘she made poor choices.’ But do you know her full story? What about your work colleague whose breath gives their alcoholism battle away? What about that young girl with the sad eyes? Addiction is convoluted and can affect anyone. People develop addictions for a whole host of reasons. It can be unexpected life events, grief, abuse, genetics, biology and chronic stress. The list goes on. Addiction almost always begins as a way to numb trauma or pain. Or it can be ONE poor choice that marks the beginning of a can’t-stop spiral. 

If you or any woman you know needs help, start by assuring them that they are brave and respected for taking that first step. Let’s change what our eyes see, and allow our hearts to do the work. 

Inside the brain. What happens when you take drugs?

Let’s start with how it feels: euphoric.

A person becomes motivated to repeat an activity due to a flood of the chemical messenger ‘dopamine’ to the brain. Dopamine provides a feeling of elation, love, and escape from reality. The world seems rosier and for a while troubles waft away. However, euphoric surge ultimately draws back like a wave and crashes on the shore, fading away along with its energy and magnificence.

It does not matter who we are. We are all human and all susceptible to addiction, because life isn’t a straight line. It moves up and it moves down, the only thing that may vary is to what degree. For those that have suffered abuse the down is far more severe that someone just having a bad day at the office. Often this abuse can stem from childhood, sometimes its domestic abuse or a violent event that can spark a downward spiral. Many of the women that Karis has cared for over the years have experienced some form of abuse. 

There are other factors that can spark crashes and the need for that release, that euphoria, that need to escape what feels like an escapable reality:


It is believed by some that genetics can contribute to some people’s battle with addiction. Mental disorders, for example, can make some more susceptible to depression or bi-polar disorder and the escape is often drugs or alcohol.


Besides abuse, things like early exposure to drugs, extreme stress, lack of parental love or guidance can contribute to addiction later on in life. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and can be pressured into experimenting before their brains have developed clear judgement and decision-making.

Karis recognises all these factors, and that is exactly why the society was formed – to help. Not to judge. We understand that addiction is a disease, and one that nobody willing signs up for. No one does drugs or drinks excessively because they want to experience the long-term negative effects that this can create by damaging the brain chemical systems and circuits. They do it because it creates a high, and a high is often mistaken for joy in the short-term. We understand. We are here for you.

The journey won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it in every way. You can do it. Yes – YOU. If you or someone you know is fighting addiction, apply to Karis and let’s get the conversation started. It’ll be the bravest thing you’ve ever done, and it’s important to know you aren’t giving up anything, it’s what you’re gaining – your life!

Karis Q&A Time

Karis Society is made up of many personalities and soulful people. From staff, through to participants, everyone contributes to the atmosphere of warmth, love, caring and empathy. This month we share a little more about our much-loved Karis Parenting Coordinator – Em.

Who are you, and what do you do for Karis? 

I have my Bachelor of Social Work and I am the Parenting Program Coordinator for Karis. I work with all the mothers in our program and either help them have their children returned to their care and/or help mother’s maintain their recovery so that their children can stay in their care, by creating a fluid, wholistic and ongoing recovery plan and providing access to parenting classes and other supports for their recovery journey.

What would you say to someone juggling the idea of joining Karis as a participant? 

Just do it! If it isn’t for you, you can leave whenever you choose, but at least give it a chance! You never know, it could save your life, or at least act as a lifejacket until you get ashore!

How can Kelowna locals get involved to further aid Karis’s goals?

Funding is huge as we are a non-profit organization and really want to give these women a real chance at sobriety and long-term recovery. Volunteer time or a talent to teach these women new ideas in order to help them develop more healthy coping mechanisms or even a business endeavour! Childminding is major way to help our mothers as having volunteers child-mind and watch the infants and toddlers so that the moms can attend all the recovery and parenting classes available to them.

Tell us something about Karis that not many people know? 

We have been around for more than 15 years and there are not near enough facilities like us in Canada! We need more! We are also locally owned and operated by the most amazing humans EVER! It is an honour and privilege to work for such a kind and generous organization that truly cares and is actively involved in supporting it’s employees and participants in the program! Thank you!!!

The Karis’s Parenting Program, supports expectant women and moms with babies with teachings and tools for parenting through recovery. The recovery-focused Parenting Program offers life skill development opportunities for women who are pregnant, parenting, or in process of having their children returned to their care. As a support-based program, by providing these opportunities, participants are able to confidently strive towards self-sufficiency and independence.

At Karis, we are stronger together, and this unity starts with the respect and support the staff show for eachother. 

The wonder of Recreational Therapy

Karis places a large importance on the health and wellness of our participants. We are always exploring new avenues, and are sure to make a difference in the productivity, and the quality of life our participants experience with us. We do this by fostering independence and an enjoyment of activities offered at Karis.

One of the most effective ways we have found to do this, is through recreational therapy. Spanning the cognitive, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and vocational domains, these activities actively boost individuals in each of these areas, through stimulating exercises such as yoga, dance, musical theatre, tai chi, art therapy, meditation and writing therapy.

Recreational therapy has many benefits to it outside of simply being a thoroughly good time. It emphasizes the improvement of motor skills, while also being effective in treating anxiety and depression. The community aspect of it encourages social engagement in a friendly way that deals with isolation head on by proving to be a supportive structure that participants can immerse themselves in. It also promotes and develops the skills required to unpack thoughts and emotions by fleshing out feelings. This is hugely beneficial when it comes to successful recovery. All these skills are useful tools which greatly contribute to developing and growing after what is sometimes years of substance abuse.

It is all thanks to our supportive and kind Kelowna community. We have numerous, selfless, kind and passionate volunteers who come in to run these recreational therapy classes on our behalf. It is because of them that we are able to provide such stimulating experiences for our participants. You can find us running these events three afternoons a week, filled with good vibes and hearty laughter. It truly is the epitome of community. 

We’d love to hear from interested volunteers, and encourage you to reach out to us at info@karis-society.org. It is through your selfless contributions that we have the privilege of witnessing the hugely beneficial results that your guided activities bring to the lives of our participants.

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.