Rain’s Story: Overcoming Obstacles with Strength and Kindness
In a time where bright spots have been hard to find, we shine a light on one of Aunt Leah’s participants, Rain. Rain has been connected to Aunt Leah’s since 2019 when they joined Aunt Leah’s Branches AYA Life Skills program. While attending Aunt Leah’s Branches AYA Life Skills Program, Rain has been supported to go back to school where they were able to complete security training courses, which helped Rain get closer to finding employment. Rain was also a participant in Aunt Leah’s Bootstraps program, where they were focused on building employment skills and finding sustainable employment. Rain had been working as a security guard before the pandemic, but when the pandemic hit, they were laid off. “I was working 60-70 hours a week around the time that Covid first started—and I moved out on my own” they said. After Rain was laid off from work and doing their best to survive during the pandemic, Rain’s housing situation fell apart, and they were evicted. “I now have a little garden space and my one bedroom all for under $1000 a month, which I found on my own by looking on Craigslist.” “I ended up seeing what I could find, and found this place that I’m in now”.
Rain has once again been involved with AYA Branches, this time, taking part in the Intro to Cook Training Program through Dan’s Legacy. Rain says “Someone really important to me told me that food brings people together—I enjoy being able to bring people together with food, because everyone is always hungry.” When asked what Rain finds most beneficial with Branches – Agreements with Young Adults Program at Aunt Leah’s, they said “With work not being as available in my industry, the fact that I’m still able to pay my rent and do what I need to… specifically with the AYA it’s nice not having to worry where my next cheque will come from, I don’t necessarily need to have all my bases covered.” With Rain’s participation in Aunt Leah’s Branches AYA Life Skills Program, they’re able to receive funding which aims to cover living expenses for the duration of their time in programming. By being part of Branches, Rain has been able to focus on their studies and training, they said, “I don’t need to worry about having my rent paid, that’s my main concern, I have a lot of animals and I don’t want to have to worry about having to rehome them.” Rain’s current goal is to take the Professional Cook Level 1 program at VCC, in order for them to take another step toward their professional cooking career. Rain says “It’s really important for me to continue to do that and to strengthen my skills to get into cooking.” When asked about other goals Rain has for the future, they said “I guess one of my other goals is to just volunteer more time, I try to be as active in the community as I can, and I know with COVID, a lot more people need support”.
Rain has a long history of giving back to the community. They started volunteering when they were 14 years old, with local organization Fostering Change. Rain spent 8 years volunteering with Fostering Change, taking part in youth homelessness initiatives, “I took a year or so off from volunteering as I was homeless at the time and was trying to figure out what I could do”, says Rain. They became connected with Aunt Leah’s and shortly thereafter, began volunteering their time both before and during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Rain says “I helped out with Plates of Possibility, I helped out with co-facilitating a painting workshop for Essential Skills Workshops and sorting food and packing bags for the food pick up.” Sarah, Rain’s support worker mentions, “Rain did most of the work to make the meal for one of the Plates of Possibility events and assisted with cleanup. Rain also helped with warehouse deliveries and furniture pick-ups with the donations driver at Aunt Leah’s Thrift.”
In 2020, Rain received the “Leah Award” at Aunt Leah’s annual youth awards, which are given out to current/former youth in our programs. The “Leah Award” goes to a youth who represents unconditional love and support. The award was created in honor of long-time friend and supporter of Aunt Leah’s, Bruce Ambrose. Sarah mentions, “Rain is the first non-mother, non-female, to earn the Leah award.” When asked how receiving this award felt, Rain says, “I still don’t know why I won the award; I was just being myself and I was just supporting Aunt Leah’s because they were supporting me and helping me… to this day I’m still shocked.” Sarah, who was the one to put Rain’s name forward for the award, says, “Rain’s ability to overcome and rise up is exceptional”. Rain says, “I don’t get a lot of recognition for the stuff I do, and I don’t need that recognition, but it’s just I didn’t realize that going and doing the things I love doing, giving my time freely without the expectation of getting anything back, I didn’t recognize that as being unconditional love and support for Aunt Leah’s. Seeing my picture at the office I’m like “hey that’s right I did that!” Rain truly does give their time freely and generously, with no expectation or reservation. Their positivity and support of the people in their life and community, will continue to warm hearts and make a positive impact in the lives of those around them. Aunt Leah’s Place is proud to have Rain as a member of our community, and we cannot wait to see what is in store for them for the future.
Article By: Braydon Chapelas