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Barry’s  New Life at Options Bytown

And so this is Christmas and what have you done?  Another year over and a new one just begun....

Barry moved into his own apartment at Options Bytown three weeks before Christmas in 2014. He was very uncertain about his surroundings and what would be his new future.  Barry only had the clothes on his back. Everything he had owned was now gone.

Life for Barry was very cruel.  He was born developmentally delayed. He was raised by a single mom with 3 other siblings.  Christmas was never a joyous affair.  Times were hard and food was scarce let alone presents.

Barry was frequently tormented for appearing awkward.  School was especially difficult for him and he left it as soon as he was able. When Barry was 14 his mother was killed in a car accident and he and his siblings were put into foster care.

His foster family treated Barry with little regard for his well being.  He was the ‘dumb one’ and was made to do all of the chores around the house while the other children had no chores. None of the foster children received gifts at Christmas.  

When Barry was of age to be on his own he became homeless and was poorly prepared to find work.  He had no discernible skills and his education was minimal.  He ate in soup kitchens and stayed in shelters with strangers who stole from him.  He was a target for violence because of his disability.  He was not safe and he knew it. . One day one of the workers at the shelter told Barry about Options Bytown’s supportive housing and about how he could have his own home where he could be safe and where he could learn independent living skills.  Options Bytown provides the supports that tenants need to stay housed.  He was told that if he needed to connect to an outside agency for any reason, an Options Bytown housing support worker would help him make that happen.  If Barry needed information about anything, all he need do is ask and they would help him.  There were life skills programs where Barry could be taught how to do his laundry, cook for himself, learn budgeting, grocery shop for healthy food and take care of his personal hygiene.

From the life-changing day when Barry arrived at Options Bytown until today a new world of opportunity has opened up for Barry. Barry gained self sufficiency through life skills programming, counselling and information sharing from compassionate social work staff. His life has been greatly enriched. With the assistance of the housing support workers Barry was also able to find part-time employment at a local Walmart. Today Barry is part of a caring community. He participates in outings together, attends varied independent lifeskills programs, special events and even parties.   The Christmas dinner is an especially joyous time.  Tenants help in the preparation of the meal as well. Close to 125 tenants and their family members, friends and volunteers gathertogether to enjoy a home-made Christmas dinner at our 3 apartment buildings in central Ottawa. Later they bring down their food storage containers and fill them up so that they can have additional Christmas meals during the week following. But Christmas would not be Christmas without presents and Options Bytown in the true spirit of community makes sure that everyone receives a gift for Christmas, thanks to generous donations.

Barry is part of all of this.  This is truly home – a permanent, safe, decent and affordable home where Barry can sleep and cook and do laundry, get his mail and even watch television in the tenant lounge.  He has friends here that do not judge him and housing support workers who can offer guidance and counselling when he asks for it.   Barry’s life is so much richer for having connected to Options Bytown.  He is part of the Options Bytown community where he is able to thrive.

By donating to Options Bytown you will be helping vulnerable people like Barry to change their lives around and to realize a life worth living. Please give so that all the Barrys who come to Options Bytown will have a second chance.

  At this special time of year Options Bytown would like to wish you and yours a very safe and happy holiday season.


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