Episode 140: One Women's Crisis Services

Jennifer Hutton is the Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

In the first episode of a special two-part series about WCSWR, Hutton sits down with Sara and Marshall to talk about emergency shelters, outreach services and accessible support, their youth education program, and her career in social services and helping people.

Episode 140: One Women's Crisis Services

Sara: Welcome to Bonn Park, I'm Sara Geidlinger.

Marshall: And I'm Marshall Ward.

Jennifer: Hi, I'm Jennifer Hutton, CEO of Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Jennifer: So glad to join you today.

Sara: Jen Hutton, thank you so much for joining us today.

Jennifer: Yes, it's good to be here.

Jennifer: Thank you for having me.

Sara: We're very excited to dig into this two-part series that we're doing with yourself and Jenna of the Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Sara: So you are the CEO of the executive leadership team?

Jennifer: Yes, I am.

Jennifer: I've been in this role, it'll be four years, the end of April, but I've been with the organization for almost ten years when I was an outreach manager prior to this.

Jennifer: So I'm doing all sorts of different things in my day to day role.

Jennifer: No, day is quite the same, of course.

Jennifer: I'm really actively involved in funding and the financial part of things, kind of the business end and, of course, executing our strategic plan, working closely with our board of directors, all sorts of different things.

Jennifer: In terms of my day to day role, it's definitely never boring.

Sara: I'll say that you mentioned that you moved from being the outreach manager to being the CEO.

Sara: And I noticed just looking you up online that you were working at KW Counseling and Grand River Hospital and helping people through your entire career, your entire journey.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Sara: What brought you to this type of work?

Jennifer: Oh, gosh, that goes back just a few years.

Jennifer: I feel like I've been in social services or the helping profession since I was probably 17 or 18, since I was actually a kid myself.

Jennifer: It was a class that I took in high school called Peer Helping that really interest me and just kind of I knew that the helping professional was likely going to be for me, it was either going to be helping people or helping animals.

Jennifer: I went to helping people, even though I'm a huge animal lover and I've been working with kids and adults for many years.

Jennifer: I did college and then an undergrad degree and then did my Masters of Social Work degree in Laurier and have stayed in the KW area and love the KW area and worked in mental health in hospital settings.

Jennifer: And really, as much as I loved helping people, I also was quite interested in the administrative side of the work and leadership.

Jennifer: So I went back again to Laurier to do an MBA.

Jennifer: And as much as I liked working in a hospital, I kind of was intrigued by not for profits.

Jennifer: I like the speed that they moved at.

Jennifer: I like that you could get a lot of things done really quickly and went for an interview for a not for profit job.

Jennifer: And the person interviewing me said, you know, I don't know if it was because I had a fair bit of schooling or whatever.

Jennifer: She's like.

Jennifer: She said, everyone here changes the toilet paper.

Jennifer: I'm like, yeah, that's exactly what I'm looking for.

Jennifer: That's the kind of work that I want to do.

Jennifer: I want to be closely involved to people and try to make real change.

Jennifer: So that's kind of my path and how it went.

Marshall: Tell us about the Women's Crisis center.

Marshall: I imagine that first six months, as you just climatize yourself to the culture and environment of it, can you talk all about that and what kind of impression it made on you when you first walked in?

Jennifer: I hadn't worked I had worked a little bit in different residential settings, but I hadn't really worked in a shelter.

Jennifer: When I walked in, it definitely didn't look like what I thought a shelter would typically look at.

Jennifer: Look like when you think about people all kind of sleeping together on cots in one room, the way our shelters are built, as it's a hotel style.

Jennifer: So I was quite impressed from the get go.

Jennifer: And as much as I had worked in social work and worked in mental health, what I was seeing with families is that a lot of the root of their struggles was really in trauma.

Jennifer: So I always had an interest in working with people who have experienced trauma.

Jennifer: And so it was just a really good fit for me.

Jennifer: And I loved that as soon as I walked in the door and that organization, there was something that just felt like I was supposed to be here.

Jennifer: It kind of felt like home, so to speak.

Jennifer: And that's why I've been there so long and why it was really important for me to do when I set myself up to move into a CEO role.

Sara: Jen, from our perspective, just to let you know, both Marshall and I came from separate homes.

Sara: Obviously, both had addiction, abuse, and all kinds of horrible things going on in our homes.

Sara: In my life, we lived in the perfect house, on the perfect court, in the perfect neighborhood with the perfect neighbors and the good cars.

Sara: Everything appeared hunky dory.

Sara: Marshall, what would you say about your house?

Marshall: Yes, I would say that was the case as well.

Marshall: I think people, our closest neighbours, knew there was something going on with my father, but this was the neighbours minded their own business, I was told, and everything just looked kind of like it does on a TV show.

Marshall: Right.

Sara: I think this is why this idea of being a good neighbour, which was one of the questions that Marshall had brought up, what does it mean to be a good neighbor?

Sara: And this she's your neighbor podcast that's been rolled out by your team is so important because what did I read on your site?

Sara: 30% of survivors report to police, but 80% tell their friends or family that something's going on and it's not great.

Sara: So obviously the system isn't working here where we need it to work.

Sara: Right.

Sara: That's the message.

Sara: It's about education.

Sara: We need to talk to our neighbors.

Sara: We need to educate that neighbor who maybe doesn't understand what's going on in your house, that this is a red flag and maybe you need to go do something if that person isn't strong enough or doesn't feel that that's the right path.

Sara: There's a section on the website also that talks about what is a bad situation, what is abuse, what is violence, what does this look like?

Sara: It's not always to be blunt, punching somebody in the face sometimes.

Sara: That's not what this is.

Sara: This is why the podcast and this sort of campaign of she's your neighbor is such an important conversation for our community to be having because it's up to all of us now to be that community that can lift up and bring help because it's not working right now.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Jennifer: It is just so common a lot of the times I've had these conversations with people, and sometimes they start off by saying, I don't know anybody that's experienced this.

Jennifer: I haven't experienced it as if it's something so separate or such an arms length.

Jennifer: And then we get talking for a while.

Jennifer: And then they start to say, well, my sister or my aunt or my friend, they weren't in a great situation.

Jennifer: We're just not talking about it.

Jennifer: Or sometimes people don't even recognize the situation that they're in.

Jennifer: So that's why it's so important to have these conversations and to be open and to share.

Jennifer: A lot of people don't.

Jennifer: And I've often said that domestic violence continues to exist because it's secret, because it's a private matter.

Jennifer: And kind of going back to your point about being a good neighbor, it wasn't too long ago.

Jennifer: I think it was a few months ago where I was walking around my neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon taking my dog for a walk.

Jennifer: I came across this couple in the street that was in dispute.

Jennifer: And there was a lot of dynamics.

Jennifer: And there was a part of me like I knew that I needed to do something.

Jennifer: Here I am, I've worked in the field, I'm trained.

Jennifer: There was also a part of me that what's going on here almost like thinking about, well, that's private.

Jennifer: Maybe I shouldn't do anything.

Jennifer: And I think people think that all the time.

Jennifer: And of course, I had to check myself and say, no, I need to keep an eye on what's going on and kind of stayed close as this couple was kind of moving through the street and kids are playing, but they're in an obvious dispute.

Jennifer: And there's like some shoving and yelling and that kind of thing.

Jennifer: So I start looking to her and say, I'm here, can I help you?

Jennifer: Do you need anything?

Jennifer: And she was so kind of in the moment of that dispute as it was kind of playing out.

Jennifer: And I continued to kind of just monitor and stay close to the couple.

Jennifer: And I was kind of watching the neighbors.

Jennifer: And I actually did see that one of the neighbors was on the phone.

Jennifer: And then this couple went into the house.

Jennifer: So I just kind of knocked at the door and said, I just need to make sure that you're okay.

Jennifer: And again, I knew that the neighbor across the road, who was also watching, was likely on the phone.

Jennifer: And then there was another couple in the house, and they kind of, I think were a bit annoyed that I was so involved in this matter.

Jennifer: And then I did go back to the neighbors that were on the phone and said, were you on the phone with police or like, just wondering what you were doing?

Jennifer: And they had called the police and then the police intervened at that point.

Jennifer: And I did a statement, but this was happening in North Waterloo in my neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon.

Jennifer: It is just so common.

Jennifer: But we're not talking about it enough.

Jennifer: And we just have this tendency of that's private and I'm not going to get involved.

Jennifer: But really, there's just so much, so much work that has to happen in this regard to shift things.

Sara: So, Jen, what we learned from the head of the history department and educator, Jeff Chard at Laurel Heights High School here in Waterloo was that it's human nature to be a bystander upstanders are the smaller percentage.

Sara: Not all of us are built that way to put ourselves into the mix like that.

Sara: So when you're telling me your story, the point where I was thinking, is this where you do something or is this where you cross the road with your dog and keep your head down and look at your phone?

Sara: Because that's our natural tendency is to do that.

Sara: This isn't my business.

Sara: They seem to be okay, I'm going to keep walking.

Sara: So the conversation again to bring it back home.

Sara: There is like this is on all of us, and this is for us to educate each other, to get involved, even if it's inconvenient and icky to put yourself in somebody else's business sometimes, right?

Jennifer: Yeah, totally.

Jennifer: No, I think we just have to think that through, and that feeling is very normal.

Jennifer: But how do we kind of push ourselves out of that?

Jennifer: And we're definitely looking at a lot of things around.

Jennifer: How do we do more?

Jennifer: How do we not even just do bystander intervention?

Jennifer: But how does neighborhoods I think back to that whole idea of the block parent idea, how do we kind of modernize that, too, so that people know where safe places are to go to seek help, to check in.

Jennifer: And when you spoke earlier about the amount of survivors that connect with a family or loved one to tell them what they're going through, that's 87% that's quite high.

Jennifer: But a lot of people just don't know what to do with that information.

Jennifer: And that's why we have the neighbors and loved ones group so that people can get some tools around what to do, what to say, what not to say, so that they can keep that conversation open.

Jennifer: And I often say plant a seed, make sure they know that you're there and that you're willing.

Jennifer: And if they don't want to talk further, then they'll maybe come back around and they'll do that on their own time.

Jennifer: But they know that you're a safe person to talk to.

Jennifer: But I also say this work is patient work because we know I think the most recent stat is that women typically leave an abusive relationship about 14 times before they actually leave for good.

Jennifer: It used to say seven, but I believe that's much higher now.

Jennifer: So it is patient.

Jennifer: But plant the seed.

Marshall: Be there, be that steady person that they can count on and go back to as they need when women arrive at Women's Crisis center is it often a situation where they figured out an escape plan and there's been some conversation already happening with the Women's Crisis center.

Marshall: It's kind of like tonight's or there's a planned day and time and they get to you and the moment they're in your hands, they're guaranteed safety and shelter for a time being, right?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Jennifer: It's a really kind of powerful thing when they're there in that moment and with our staff.

Jennifer: And it's just such an important time.

Jennifer: And you're right, there's a real lead up and there's quite a process, and there needs to be a process.

Jennifer: We know it's the riskiest time for women when they're leaving an abusive situation.

Jennifer: So we want them to be very careful and that to be well planned.

Jennifer: So often times they have talked to our staff before through our 24/7 crisis support line or online chat feature and made that plan.

Jennifer: So oftentimes that plan is usually revolved around when their partner is out of the house or away for a period of time and they get some coaching on make sure you gather your children's passports or birth certificates or have those important documents, get what you need, have that plan for the day of and may arrange a taxi or that kind of thing.

Jennifer: So that that's all set up and it may shift at times as plans change.

Jennifer: But having a plan, a safety plan is absolutely crucial.

Jennifer: And having a professional do that because they know the various things to consider.

Jennifer: Even now with technology, how do they protect themselves and keep themselves safe with tech?

Jennifer: So lots of different considerations.

Jennifer: So I always stress for people if they're thinking of leaving, to get some professional help in making that plan.

Sara: This can be the most dangerous time in this person's life is when you make that choice to leave or an attempt to leave.

Sara: So there was some conversation in one of the episodes where I think it was Jenna was saying, tell a friend, tell a family member, tell somebody, make yourself accountable, that this is actually happening.

Speaker A: That somebody knows where you're going to be.

Sara: This is terrifying kind of stuff.

Sara: And it's interesting as the world sort of watches celebrities like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, what they're going through.

Sara: I really took to heart something that Trevor Noah had commented on online.

Sara: Did you see this?

Sara: I get it.

Sara: It's really easy to make fun of these billionaires, but I saw this happen to my mom.

Sara: Everybody told her, she reported it many times.

Sara: And then time after time after time, year after year after year, and then she gets shot in the face, right?

Sara: Yeah.

Sara: They shouldn't say that so lightly.

Sara: But the conversation isn't that different.

Sara: This happens to anyone.

Jennifer: It does.

Jennifer: I know something that we've definitely been talking a lot about and raising awareness of is femicide and just looking at the numbers and how they've increased and they've really increased in the last year.

Jennifer: And this is in Canada.

Jennifer: It's just so worrisome around those numbers.

Jennifer: And even how we look at a couple of people, a couple of organizations that are tracking those numbers and trying to follow what's reported in the media.

Jennifer: But oftentimes it's not very transparent in terms of the reporting.

Jennifer: So it's hard to even grasp what those numbers are.

Jennifer: But myself, having had loved ones that also lost their loved ones to femicide, it's definitely hard work for me.

Jennifer: And it's something that I'm really passionate about raising awareness of and an issue that just seems to be getting worse.

Jennifer: And it just tells you like this is the devastation.

Jennifer: This is what can happen in the seriousness of the other work that we do.

Marshall: Let's take a moment and listen to a segment of the she Is Your Neighbor podcast.

Jennifer: Yeah.

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast: Because, Jenna, I do think when I looked back once, I was really out and I looked back at that, I think that I really did believe that had I tried to stay, I really tried to stay, he would have killed me.

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast: I really would not have lived probably beyond the age of 25.

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast: At least 75% of women who are exposed to intimate partner violence are likely to have sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result.

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast: Yes, there are situations in which domestic abuse is obvious, but there are more likely more situations where it's not present at all.

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast: It's not apparent to those around women that are being abused that we need to understand that it could be happening, and we need to understand that there are levels behind people that we don't know about and queues to look for, et cetera.

Marshall: Jen, can you talk about how women transitioning from the shelter to independent living and what that looks like?

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely.

Jennifer: And that's actually a good question with what we've been seeing recently, I'm sure you've all been hearing about the affordable housing crisis, and that really has impacted us in shelter.

Jennifer: If you had asked me a couple of years ago how long women and children stay in shelter, I would be saying about eight weeks, maybe twelve weeks, depending on the circumstance.

Jennifer: But now I would be telling you, almost half of our families are staying in for more than three months now.

Jennifer: We had one family, a mom and three of her children that in October.

Jennifer: In the past October, they had their one year anniversary in shelter.

Jennifer: Shelter is not meant for that long.

Jennifer: However, oftentimes those living in our shelter are waiting for subsidized housing, and subsidized housing is hard to come by right now.

Jennifer: And those families that could afford market rent maybe can't afford market rent in the current environment.

Jennifer: So obviously a big issue that we've been wrestling with and seeing what we could do, because if more people are staying in shelter longer, then that also means less open beds for those emergencies to come in.

Jennifer: So pretty exciting that we recently purchased triplex that we're using for transitional housing.

Jennifer: This is the first time we've had transitional housing.

Jennifer: We have very big shelters, 90 shelter beds, one of the biggest in the province.

Jennifer: However, we haven't had transitional housing because we really have new shelters and large shelters.

Jennifer: But that need has just grown so early.

Jennifer: May we get possession and we'll be moving a few families in and hope to just expand.

Jennifer: So it's an exciting time and lots of planning happening right now.

Jennifer: It's maybe a bit of a drop in the bucket as to how big the problem is.

Jennifer: But we feel excited that we can at least do our part to start helping women move out of shelter more quickly while still having onsite staff support.

Jennifer: So it's a nice kind of combination from going from that 24 hours support that they get in shelter and the extent of programming to still having a staff available and some programming and that kind of thing, but also just having some Privacy and independence living in their own unit.

Jennifer: So, yeah, it's pretty exciting for us.

Sara: That's really good news.

Sara: It would be nice to see, as you said, more projects like that pop up where there'd be more access, really, for people experiencing domestic violence who don't have a family network to lean back on.

Jennifer: Don't have a mom and dad.

Sara: Don't have brothers or sisters or friends that they can ask for help.

Sara: There was an episode of She Is Your Neighbor podcast that was very powerful with Brenda Halloran, the former Mayor of Waterloo.

Sara: And she mentioned many times in the episode that she could rely on her family and she could call up her parents and her brother was at the door on the day it was time to leave.

Sara: And very strong story with a message of don't stay.

Sara: I think she repeated herself a few times, don't stay.

Sara: It's not worth it.

Sara: But for those people that are completely on their own and maybe the only person they have to lean on is their partner, what does the resource outreach look like for that?

Jennifer: Yes.

Jennifer: Well, it's really important that we do kind of a wrap around support.

Jennifer: We can't do this work alone.

Jennifer: So we have multi service providers helping people.

Jennifer: But you're right, a lot of the time people are coming to us and they maybe don't have a lot of family support, or maybe that support is really pushing them to stay for whatever reason.

Jennifer: And some women definitely choose to stay, and that's okay.

Jennifer: We want to support them in doing that.

Jennifer: But those who want to leave, then we need to support them in doing that as well.

Jennifer: And then sometimes that can be pretty lonely and pretty isolating.

Jennifer: So not only do we want to offer that support, but even as they move out of shelter, like connecting them to the community center in their neighborhood and then getting them connected in different ways, not always just to formal support like us, but also informal supports or, you know, sometimes people, when you talk to them, have an aunt that they haven't connected with.

Jennifer: Well, maybe if they had a good experience, you want to try to reconnect with them.

Jennifer: So, yeah, it's definitely kind of building their network.

Jennifer: But yeah, unfortunately, some people, for whatever reason, maybe don't have a ton of supports in their life, which is just another barrier and another reason why sometimes they stay in relationships that are abusive for longer periods of time.

Marshall: I'm aware that in elementary schools we have clubs like Community Cares and that and lots of environmental clubs and things like that.

Marshall: But I'm really intrigued by the fact you had a class in high school called did you call it Peers Helping?

Speaker H: Yeah, that was a full class.

Marshall: That's amazing that you had that.

Marshall: And that's what led you to this basically a career path that you've built, like in a really solid, linear way, right?

Jennifer: Yeah, it's funny.

Jennifer: I know.

Jennifer: And that was just a few years ago.

Jennifer: I was in high school to think that they had a course like that, but it was essentially a lot like a counseling course.

Jennifer: How do you help your peers?

Jennifer: How do you counsel them through things?

Jennifer: And I was not a great student in high school, so I had some success in that program and then went into child youth work at college again because my grades really weren't that high at that point and had success there.

Jennifer: And then I kept going.

Jennifer: So it's just so important to have different classes and for people to figure out what is their passion and kind of go from there.

Jennifer: But yeah, I've been very fortunate that it's led me to where I am now.

Sara: It's like this class was that light bulb moment for you because we all have that, right.

Sara: Marshall and I often talk about the things we didn't excel at and the things that we did, and maybe we're both the best students, but the things that interest us, we crushed.

Sara: Right.

Sara: And pursued sometimes.

Sara: So talking about education, can you tell us about the youth education program?

Jennifer: Yeah, it's a great program that we've been doing for the past couple of years now.

Jennifer: We actually purchased a curriculum that was developed out of Orangeville Violence Against Women's Shelter there because they had been doing it for a number of years and had some really good results because we really wanted to do something that we again knew made a difference.

Jennifer: And they had pre and post measures built in.

Jennifer: And I think this past year we had 321 kids go through our program and 65% actually identified as male.

Jennifer: So we actually had more male identified attendees than female.

Jennifer: So I thought that was kind of interesting.

Jennifer: And they really talked about how at the end of the program, they really had an increased understanding of what healthy relationships look like and should look like.

Jennifer: It's kind of neat.

Jennifer: It's a very interactive program where they look at things like TikTok and how do you interpret things that are happening in TikTok?

Jennifer: How might they be demonstrating things about body image and relationships and that kind of thing?

Jennifer: So it really is interactive, and it really kind of starts where kids are at.

Jennifer: So it's been quite effective.

Marshall: When I think about your collaborative partnerships in the community, I imagine you have to have a really well functioning one with the wireless regional police services.

Marshall: And how does that work?

Marshall: Is that something that's happening all the time where there's a conversation going on there?

Jennifer: Yeah, it is.

Jennifer: We both work out of the Family Violence Project, and so there's an element of constable detectives that work out of crisis at the Family Violence Project in the Intimate Partner unit.

Jennifer: And we also have staff on site there.

Jennifer: So what makes that work pretty well is that there's an element of relationship development.

Jennifer: If, say, somebody comes in to make a report to police, then police can walk down the hall and let one of our workers know that they're going to be meeting with somebody, and it gives us an opportunity to sit in on that meeting.

Jennifer: Or if that's happened, then they can walk down that person to make an introduction.

Jennifer: And then they see this is the worker, and she's kind and she wants to help and she wants to listen.

Jennifer: And just the likelihood of that follow through just makes such a difference.

Jennifer: And we've really looked at our partnership historically.

Jennifer: It used to be that they would meet with a woman and take a statement or whatnot, and then say, hey, do you mind if I make a referral to women's crisis?

Jennifer: And oftentimes they would say yes.

Jennifer: And then we would call back.

Jennifer: And the follow through was I think it was like something like 30% or something.

Jennifer: So we really had to look at how do we do that different?

Jennifer: How do we do that better?

Jennifer: And just the opportunity to really connect a little bit more so that we're involved right from the upfront has made that follow through and the impact just that much better.

Jennifer: And we've seen gosh, I was just looking at the stats the other day.

Jennifer: The prior year, we had almost 1000 outreach referrals in general.

Jennifer: This past year, we doubled that 1977 referrals, and the amount of referrals that we received from police had also doubled.

Jennifer: So I know sometimes you don't want to see numbers go up, but if it's happening, then our staff are trained and we want them to be involved.

Jennifer: So I was glad to see that increase.

Jennifer: And it's really representative of what we've seen kind of across Canada, that domestic violence rates during the pandemic have gone up.

Marshall: This may seem like a comical analogy I'm going to make.

Marshall: We have four aquariums in my home.

Marshall: The family look after, okay.

Marshall: And when you go to pet store, sometimes, sometimes you'll see like a beta fish by itself in a bowl.

Marshall: It's not doing well at all.

Marshall: And the pet store will let you take that for free.

Marshall: And you sign a paper.

Marshall: It just says, I understand.

Marshall: I won't be bringing this back.

Marshall: Take it home and try to give it the best chance you can.

Marshall: Give it there's things you can do.

Marshall: And in often cases, weeks later, that fish that looked like it was near death looks incredible.

Marshall: It's so healthy and swimming and so happy.

Marshall: And it's such a big moment to triumph for us.

Marshall: And we're just so proud that this fish is so colorful and big and happy now.

Marshall: And I hope that analogy makes sense so that you must have great moments of triumph where you have met women in so many, I guess, months down the road.

Speaker H: You just feel so good about the work you do.

Speaker H: Can you talk about that?

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely.

Jennifer: And it's really our staff that's doing the work where I'm very much behind the scenes.

Jennifer: But how they describe it to me is often how a woman looks when she first comes to us.

Jennifer: We often talk about eyes as the windows to the soul.

Jennifer: And they kind of talk about a little bit that kind of blank look.

Jennifer: There's not a lot of light and vibrancy.

Jennifer: And then they talk about how that person looks towards the end of their stay.

Jennifer: And there's light, there's energy, there's vibrancy, there's life is there.

Jennifer: And they often talk about how that changes over time of having the support, being out of that time of fear and walking on eggshells and just the impact that it can make.

Jennifer: And similar stories for children.

Jennifer: Obviously, children display things in different ways, but maybe they come in with a lot of externalizing behaviors or maybe they're really introverted and really, really struggling, and that shifts too.

Jennifer: It's really powerful.

Jennifer: I know I love sometimes if I need a bit of a boost is connecting to her music therapist, and she just has some incredible stories sometimes that take me to tears because she just tells them in such a way.

Jennifer: But she even talked once about a boy who is really struggling in shelter with stuttering and his language.

Jennifer: And he was really getting bullied at school and really just struggling.

Jennifer: And we know sometimes there can be a link there with trauma.

Jennifer: So she was working on drumming with him, and he kind of found that when he was drumming in the way that he was doing the drums and getting into singing or talking with her during that activity, that his stuttering was much improved.

Jennifer: So then she brought in the mum to show her this.

Jennifer: And the mom was in tears to see the impact and just the joy in her son because this stuttering was just causing such heartache for this child.

Jennifer: So he got that if he was struggling with stuttering or out and about with his friends or at school that he would like to tap his leg and that would help and it's just stories like that that just make the work and how hard it is and tiring just so valuable and I know that's what keeps our staff going because it is such a challenging job and it was challenging before.

Jennifer: The pandemic has just been that much harder during the pandemic, too.