Elm Centre tenant Mary Lou VandenBroek finds home

Life is an odd adventure.

The road of life has as many words to describe it – as the steps we use to walk along it.   I’ll pull up these words frightening, challenging, amazing… an adventure in faith, hope and love, to describe this present leg of my journey.

Before the YWCA Elm Centre was built, I actually use to work on this exact building site as a Registered Nurse, when then it was a seniors retirement and long term care residence called The (Rotary) Laughlin Centre.

Now I live here! – and words cannot express in full how glad I am to be living here, to have finally found a safe and comfortable home.

When I got ill, my life was transformed. The illness I developed at the time had not yet developed a case definition or guidelines for care, as it now has today, so my health continued slipping.  I eventually was no longer able to work.

As my health deteriorated, my housing deteriorated. I became progressively more physically and mentally disabled and more so terribly isolated.

Sick, living in horrible, dangerous conditions, I was truly caught in these circumstances.
And when you are sick and do not have a lot of money people can leave you feeling like you haven’t any value at all.

So often what I said was ignored or dismissed.  So often my needs were ignored or dismissed,  I was often left begging to be heard, begging to have my needs acknowledged, but my appeals went unheard.

I can’t tell you how it crushes the human spirit to be treated in such an inhumane manner.

I’ve had so many visits to doctors and hospitals that could have been completely avoided if I had just had decent housing and support to keep me healthy.

It’s a terrible feeling to be bounced around the system – never finding the necessary support.  Again I must share with you how I felt dehumanized.

I had been trying so very hard to get good housing, but everywhere I went I was denied housing because of my source of income, and in some instances, I think because of my disability.

It was a serendipitous find the YWCA ELM Centre. Talk about being a turning point for me, talk about the hand that reaches out with heart to help someone step up!  I am so very thankful to be here. I have a beautiful place to live, with other women, with support, and with community.

I have been reminded what it is to be human,  to be with other people, to be able to share with other people, to becoming well enough again to experience and participate in the wonder that is life, and all the beauty that surrounds me, and not just be living  overwhelmed by the barriers and struggling with the negative effects.

I want the freedom to live full out with my disability to whatever that potential might be. I CAN manage my disability – but not when I have no support.

People with disabilities need different kinds of support. Some may  need mobility aid. Some may need glasses. The point is that with the right support we can go for more in actualizing our potential. With the right support comes discovery and growth, participation and contribution to our communities. We can be fully human.

The YWCA Elm Centre is my home. All of us need a home so that we can be safe, so that we can be cared for, so that we can offer others care – so that we can build on our strengths and our dreams.  I will certainly fly here, if I may say kind of like a goose, being along side, and together with, taking each other further and higher.


  1. Olli Warelius
    6 years ago

    Congrats ~ Found your blog on Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good, keep them coming !

  2. Leone Siciliani
    6 years ago

    I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.

  3. Annalee
    6 years ago

    Mary Lou you did an amazing job today. You should be so proud and give yourself a huge hug. You were so courageous and inspiring to the rest of us and truly touched the hearts of us all.

    Lots of Positive & Healing Energy For The Journey Ahead. ~~~~