Tara Herrington is seen with her daughter, Shateara, who was born in September. Herrington is a regular and grateful user of the Kelowna Food Bank.
She'd been homeless in Regina and had already given up her two-year-old son to his father's family. She took the bus to Kelowna last March and stayed with her great Auntie Ruth, who agreed to put her up until she got on her feet.
"She invited me because she knew I was living on the street and had nowhere to go," said Herrington, 22.
Ruth got her connected with a support worker and local social agencies. By mid-July, Herrington had her own one-bedroom apartment operated by NOW Canada. Phillippa, her support worker, was by her side in hospital when she gave birth to her daughter Shateara in September.
"She was telling me everything's OK and I can take my daughter home because there's no reason that social workers can take her," Herrington said. "When she met with the social worker, she said 'Tara has come so far. She's done everything she could.'"
Herrington enrolled in the Nobody's Perfect parenting program and mixes with other single moms every Friday. She's also taking a weekly pregnancy program for young moms and pregnant women.
For someone who lived a high-risk lifestyle, it's exciting to learn something new every day and blossom as a mother, she said.
"It's amazing to wake up every morning and see her face and know she looks up to me and I'm there for her. It makes me feel happy I don't have to rely on anybody and someone has to rely on me now. It makes me feel I have a greater purpose in this world."
Herrington is collecting emergency social assistance and receives less than $800 a month. It covers her
$375 rent, utilities, other bills and diapers, but there's not much left over. She uses the Kelowna Food Bank to supplement her nutrition.
"I'm breastfeeding and I need food. The food bank is my backup - it keeps us going. If I didn't have the food bank, I'd have $50 to live on a month, and I can't live off that if I'm breastfeeding."
Herrington plans to finish her Grade 12 when Shateara turns 3. She's grateful to everyone who's helped her, including Richard at the food bank, who has given her extra diapers and juice, and the people who donate food and cash.
"If not for people giving to the food bank and how generous the people are there, we wouldn't be eating," she said.
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