Denise Einer is the program director at Sardis DoorWay

Denise Einer is the program director at Sardis DoorWay

Sardis DoorWay: Breaking down barriers one week at a time

Sardis DoorWay is celebrating 25 years supporting at-risk moms and their young children in Chilliwack.

On a rain-soaked Wednesday morning Denise Einer stood in the front lobby of Sardis Community Church welcoming every mother and child that walked through the door.

She addressed them by name, squeezed their shoulders, looked them in the eyes, and said:

‘Good morning. How are you today?’

Such a simple act may seem small to most, but for the women at Sardis DoorWay, it’s their sun.

Sardis DoorWay is a non-profit organization that has been providing resources and support for vulnerable women and their children, between the ages of newborn to kindergarten, for 25 years.

For Einer, the program director, connecting with the women is the most important role she has.

“So many of these women and children feel invisible,” she said. “If nothing else in this world, we want these women to know that I see you, I know your name, and I’m glad you’re here.

“These women need to be seen.”

Sardis DoorWay started as a dream in 1987 by two church-going women, Lee Rudance and Elsie Goerzen, who saw the need of the vulnerable, single moms in the community and wanted to provide them with respite, care and friendship.

What started with 10 volunteers working out of Goerzen’s living room has evolved into a full-blown organization that now has 60 volunteers from 11 different churches serving the needs of anywhere from 35 to 45 moms and 55 to 65 children.

Every week, the women and children are fed first thing in the morning, are provided with additional snacks, and are served a hearty, hot lunch to round out the day.

They are also sent home with a gallon of milk every week, and are given food hampers and frozen meat hampers every month.

For three hours, moms are given leave from their children to participate in a variety of educational workshops such as budgeting, nutrition and meal planning, healthy relationships, parenting, conflict resolution, and even more basic concepts like manners and punctuality.

“Very simple things that you and I know, but these women don’t,” said Einer.

The women are also provided with crisis counseling if needed, given the resources and support to complete their high school graduation and pursue further education, and most recently have been provided with professional driving lessons.

Their children are also supported developmentally.

“We’re in the business of removing barriers that keep our families from being successful,” said Einer. “Our goal is to equip them, encourage them, and give them the education they need to make choices in their life that will impact them and their children so that they’re employable and sustainable as families.”

For 21-year-old Tamara McCurdy, DoorWay has become a weekly safe haven.

The day McCurdy found out she was pregnant with her two-year-old daughter Hanna-Lynn, her fiancé had been sentenced to two years in jail. She was new to Chilliwack, didn’t have a network of friends or family, no high school diploma, no job, no driver’s license.

She felt lost.

But when she walked into DoorWay, there was no judgement, she said.

“The volunteers make you feel so loved and cared for.”

McCurdy is one of the first recipients of the new driver’s license program DoorWay offers. For years, she feared getting behind the wheel of a car, which was the result of an accident she was in when she was 14 years old.

But one of the volunteers took her under her wing and let McCurdy drive home every week, teaching her the fundamentals of driving.

Next month, McCurdy will be going for her license, which DoorWay has paid for.

“Getting my license would be a big life changer for me,” she said.

“Right now, I’m having to pick up groceries using the the stroller, which is so worn out from having to carry heavy items.

“Having my license opens up a world of opportunities… when I get it, I’m going to cry because I’ll be so proud of myself.”

It’s stories like McCurdy’s that keep Einer coming back for more.

Einer has been at DoorWay for 16 years, and for years, when the program went on summer break, she swore up and down she would not return the following year.

“You feel like you’ve been run over by a semi truck and you vow never to come back,” she said. “But it gets in your blood; it gets in your heart.”

Einer has seen hundreds of women come and go. She’s seen success stories of women who have been so debilitated by drugs or other abuses, and have risen to better the lives for them and their children. She’s seen women go back to school, start careers, even purchase their own homes. She’s seen them take responsibility.

“It’s the hidden victories, the really tiny, small victories that people don’t bang their drums about, those are the special moments,” said Einer. “A child not saying the F word, a mom phoning to tell us she can’t make it, taking responsibility – that’s huge.

“When they come to our door, they’re broken, and what we try to do is pin a set of tiny wings on them so that when it comes time for them to leave, they fly.”SARDIS DOORWAY FUNDRAISER:

Sardis DoorWay is holding an auction fundraiser on April 21 at Sardis Community Church at 7 p.m.

The event, which is held every 18 months, is a major fundraiser for the non-profit organization, which relies heavily on community donations and grants for its operating budget.

This year’s fundraiser will be combined with a 25th anniversary celebration.

Tickets are $10.

For more information, contact Denise Einer at 604-819-6556.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Just Posted

Rohan arul-Pragasam, Chilliwack School District’s interim superintendent, has been appointed superintendent of schools effective June 15, 2021. (Chilliwack School District)
Interim position becomes permanent for Rohan Arul-pragasam at Chilliwack School District

Arul-pragasam said he was ‘humbled to continue as a steward’ in new role as superintendent of schools

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

Most Read