Royalene Reed became a single mother to four young children after her divorce in the mid-1980s. Cheerful and outgoing today, she recalls with painful clarity her shame, loneliness and helplessness after losing her entire support system when she chose to end her marriage. Money was scarce, and Royalene was forced to line up at the food bank to feed her three boys and a daughter. By the early 1990s, her second youngest child – then about age 10 – began running from home and acting out. His actions were affecting her three other children and Royalene was completely and utterly lost.
Finally, at her wits end and worried for the well-being of her three other children, she made the difficult choice to give up her son in hopes the government’s child welfare system could get him the help she couldn’t. “The only way to protect them was to swallow my pride and do what I had to do,” she says.
Her son was referred to the Wood’s Homes Stabilization program several times for short-term care and counselling, and Royalene also relied on the 24-hour crisis line run by the Community Resource Team for emergency phone support.
As her family healed (her son never returned to live at home, but they stay in touch), Royalene never forgot the place and people who helped heal her family in their darkest time. Recently, she approached the Wood’s Homes Foundation determined to give back to the organization that had helped her during a low point in her life. She decided to include Wood’s Homes in her estate plans by including a charitable bequest in her will. It is her hope that her legacy gift will provide financial assistance to families to allow them to seek counselling and parent education programs without worrying about living expenses.
“I want this to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Royalene. But her message is more far-reaching than that. “I also want the staff to know they had a measurable impact – not just to him, but to me with my work with my other three kids. I want the people who give money to Wood’s Homes to know that they are getting a good return on their investment. Wood’s Homes helps make our community a healthier and safer place to live. Everyone wins in the end.”