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January 18, 2024
Meet Molly
October 25, 2022

Meet Suson

“Because of you, I got my mom back. I didn’t have to be her social worker, disciplinarian or her teacher. I could just be her daughter.”

You gave me my mom back.

Cornerstone Housing for Women helped my mom blossom into the beautiful person she has always been, which was masked because of her mental illness.

The staff validated her, they didn’t make her feel judged. They helped her light to shine brightly. After years of trauma, being in and out of hospitals, or under the control of another person, she finally found her home, she finally found herself again.

My mom moved into Cornerstone’s Booth Residence in 2010 and she was genuinely happy for the first time – in a long time. She lived here happily until her health declined, she needed more specialized health care and peacefully passed away in 2016.

She truly blossomed while living at Booth Street.

For my entire life, I always wanted to have a good relationship with my mom, but it was dysfunctional at times.

I always felt the urge to care for her. I felt I had to.

This Mother’s Day, you can help a woman at Cornerstone blossom. Please consider honouring the mother figure in your life with a special gift this year or consider becoming a monthly donor.

When you donate monthly to help a woman at Cornerstone, you are helping families come back together, you are healing relationships, and you’re helping communities blossom. Monthly donations are crucial to giving stability to Cornerstone and the women we serve.

I know, because you were there for my mom, and you were there for me and my brother.

You gave me my mom back. You helped give me the relationship with my mom I always wanted.

I grew up in Nova Scotia with my mom who had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but we didn’t know it at the time. When you’re young you think your life is normal. I know I did.

As normal as I thought our life was, I knew it wasn’t right.

My father was abusive towards my mom and my brother. My brother was Deaf, and our father didn’t have the skills to deal with it.  I was the defender, even at that young age of my brother and my Mom.

When I was 8 years old, my mom left him and took us to live with my grandmother who was very controlling of our mother and an alcoholic. I never had a bedtime routine or set meal times growing up. Quite honestly, there were many nights that I went without supper because of the dysfunction in our family. It was tough.

When I was 13 years old I was put into foster care until I turned 18 years old. I was placed with a wonderful family who gave me the routine I needed in life.

At 18, I decided I would move to Halifax where my mom lived, and go to school there. I fantasized about reconnecting with my mother. But this didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to deal with a mom who had such serious mental illnesses.

In my early twenties, I decided to leave Halifax with my partner and start our life together in Ottawa. I needed a fresh start, but it wasn’t easy. I was on welfare, I stayed at the YMCA and through volunteering at the Food Bank, I was able to find training and full-time employment in the community.

I didn’t have a lot of money, I was trying to find my way. It was a struggle at times, but I was happy in Ottawa.

When I was 25 I got a call from my mom’s friend who told me she had to hospitalize her because her mental illness was getting worse. My mom would do things out of the blue like panic in fear thinking she had bugs crawling all over her when they weren’t there. She couldn’t function anymore and she lost her job as a PSW. She needed help managing her illness.

I didn’t have any money to go back to Halifax to help her, but eventually, my mom used her wit and charm to get out of the hospital and came to me in Ottawa.

I remember when she got off the bus, I just gave her the biggest hug. My mom came to Ottawa with two things – a bag of oranges and a bottle of Comet cleaning powder. These were the two most important things to her. She had to keep things clean and keep up her blood sugar.

I took her straight to the civic hospital where she was admitted. My mom understood she had to be admitted.

She knew she couldn’t live independently.

She was tired but she was just happy to be close to her daughter.

I spent the next couple of years trying to help my Mom live in the community independently. It was a very dysfunctional relationship. I still didn’t have the skills to deal with her effectively.

I had to be my mom’s social worker, teacher, and disciplinarian. I couldn’t just be her daughter.

Once I understood that a lot of my mom’s actions were out of fear, it finally clicked. Something shifted with us – our relationship grew more tender. I was more patient with her. The empathy I had for her grew, but I knew we couldn’t live like this forever.

I was talking to a social worker, who thought mom would be a great fit for this new housing residence that was opening up at Cornerstone Housing for Women.

I thought that sounded great, but the catch was, mom had to go to their shelter in order to be qualified for this housing.  At the time, she was living with me and recovering from a nasty fall that had left her with two broken arms.

My first thought was “I can’t send my mom to a shelter, this little lady who’s healing from two broken arms, who struggles with her mental illness.” I had been responsible for her for so long, it felt wrong.

But, it was the only way to get her the care she needed. Once she got a bit better, that’s what I did. I brought mom to Cornerstone’s shelter.

I remember her rocking back and forth in the hallway, her thinking how filthy the place was and me telling her it’s going to be okay – “you have your Lysol wipes with you. You’ll be okay.” This seemed to ease her fears.

Mom ended up staying at the shelter for about a week and then she was qualified for Cornerstone’s Booth residence. She was one of the first women to call Booth their home.

Those were the best years of her life.

Our relationship flourished since she moved in.

Because of you, I got my mom back. I didn’t have to be her social worker, disciplinarian or her teacher. I could just be her daughter.

Please consider sending a special gift or consider becoming a monthly donor this Mother’s Day to help a mom like mine blossom at Cornerstone.   

Your donation can truly make a difference in a woman’s life. It made a difference in her life, and it made a difference in mine at the same time.

I remember the day she moved in she was so excited because everything was so new and clean.

At Cornerstone’s residence, she was always busy, whether she was helping the cooks, making crafts with the staff, attending the spiritual care program, helping to clean residents’ rooms, or volunteering at Cornerstone fundraisers. One of the things that my mom and I share to this day is our love of crafts and sewing. It’s something I will cherish forever.

She loved the cooking, and she loved that she received prepared meals in the kitchen, she would tell me “Suzy, the food is so good.”

She thrived at Booth Street.

She couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you for believing in women who struggle with their mental health. Thank you for giving me my mom back.

You helped my mom who struggled with her mental illness for years get the support she really needed. You gave her back her dignity, her family, and you gave me my mom back.

Cornerstone is not just helping that one resident. They’re healing relationships. They’re helping families, and when you help families you’re helping communities.

I am so grateful for the Cornerstone community, which supported my mom until she passed away.

Thank you for giving me and my mom the best years of our lives.


Suson Clark,
Loving daughter of Sharon (previous Cornerstone resident)

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