Today is a special day.  Not only is it Christmas eve, but it is a special blog post too! Today it is not only me writing the blog, but another one of the amazing girls who lives here at SafeHope Home too.  Now, just like me, we can’t tell you her actual name either, but what we can call her is Ricky.  She is such a special young woman who, when I asked her what she wanted me to say about her, her first response was that she’s ‘pretty boring’.  Although that’s definitely not true, something else that’s truly exciting is that yesterday she was 22 months sober! She also 20 years old and loves warm hugs (her words).

             This year, the holidays look a little bit different for both of us.  Not just because of COVID, but because we are at SafeHope.  Now, in a previous post, I mentioned that I have a bit of a hard time around the holidays; however, since I have come here, my experiences around this time of year have drastically changed, to say the least.  Ricky usually finds it difficult not to fall into a mindset of self-pity around the holidays, but by being surrounded by so much positivity and being able to take part in all the holiday activities that have been planned for us, she says that she is genuinely happy this year, which is a big change for her.

             So far, we’ve been able to go and see a huge display of Christmas lights, where all the houses were lit up.  We’ve enjoyed so much holiday food and even cooked a huge Christmas dinner as a group.  Each one of the girls got to choose a dish to make and a lot of us chose to make something that had either childhood or other positive memories associated with them.  We’ve been able to make snow globes, decorate wreaths, put up and decorate our Christmas tree and make our own ornaments! We even have a few Christmas decorations that the girls have taken turns hiding around the house on each other (a few of them have even ended up in my bed). We’ve had special movie days, there is an ice rink being put in the backyard and there have even been nights where staff have come over to cook dinner for us! It’s safe to say that we have definitely been spoiled the past few weeks.

             Something that Ricky and I have in common is that we both had rather dysfunctional families and never quite got to have that ‘storybook’ kind of Christmas.  Right now, if you were to come to our house, you would see a fully decorated tree with an insane amount of presents under it.  Even today, our executive director dropped off gift baskets that we got to open up early!  This kind of thing wouldn’t be possible without all of the hard work that the amazing staff put in to make sure we have the best holidays possible, nor would it be possible without all of the kindness and generosity of those who have chosen to donate to SafeHope, whether monetarily, or by way of supporting the Christmas Wish-list.  By supporting SafeHope, not only are you supporting the girls in the house (which we appreciate!!), but also the girls who are in follow-care and outreach. Although we are all in different situations and have different stories, no one of us is more important than the other, we all deserve love and support whether we are in the house or not, and I’m sure if they could tell you thank you for your kindness this holiday season, they would tell you so too.

             It is never lost on neither me nor Ricky just how lucky we are to have a roof over our head, have our own bedrooms and above all, are safe.  That is a lot more than can be said for a lot of girls. SafeHope provides a sense of belonging and security that I have found not only to be unparalleled but also would be lost without.  Because I am in a safe place, I am able to focus on the things that matter.  I have been able to focus on improving my mental health, staying positive around the holidays, having positive relationships, finishing school and on staying healthy.  Ricky has been able to learn how to manage emotions in a healthy way, she’s been given the resources she needs to reach out for help (i.e. therapy, a family doctor) and focus on learning basic life skills to help her live independently in the future.

             In talking about Christmas wishes, something that Ricky is wishing for this year is to feel loved.  She’s wishing to feel a sense of belonging and that she is a part of a family.  It may not be blood, but the amazing thing about ‘getting out’ and getting sober, is that we now get to choose our family, and I hope Ricky gets her wish.  Something that I wish for is, obviously to end human trafficking, but I feel as if that’s a bit of an uphill battle.  I do believe it is possible though and I’m thoroughly committed to stopping it.  I have the same wish as Ricky, but I also hope that I’m able to make a difference.  I think I mentioned this in my very first blog post, but I don’t believe in pointless suffering.  No matter what anyone has been through, I believe there is always a purpose to it.  I hope there continues to be a purpose to everything I have gone through in my life and that I am able to make a difference in the world, even if it’s just a small one.

             We really want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.  We hope that wherever you are, you are surrounded by people who love you.  We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy, but if you don’t get along with your family and have a hard relationship with them, just know that that’s okay too.  You don’t need to surround yourself with toxic people just because it’s the holidays. Your main priority is taking care of you and I hope you are kind to yourself. Thank you all again for everything you do, even if it’s just reading this blog, your presence matters. Happy Holidays.

Love, Stevie and Ricky