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“CoSA first came into my life in 2019 when I wrote Susan Love an introductory letter seeking support from CoSA, which I didn’t know much about. When I received a response from Susan, learning and understanding more about the program, it confirmed that I wanted this organization for support when I would be released from prison back into the community. 

I finally met my circle volunteers in December of 2020 and with their assistance, I found a place to live after leaving the halfway house where I was required to stay, a period of only 10 weeks, until I reached my warrant expiry date (the end of my sentence). The staff at the house offered good support; however, during COVID, it was very difficult to find affordable housing and navigate community resources, in particular, and to learn bus routes and just find my way in a city I had never stepped foot in before. My volunteers were tremendously helpful in orientating me and making the learning curve less steep!

My volunteers also helped me to deal with a personal situation with my father. He and I had developed a ‘drift’ in our relationship where he found it very difficult to speak to me. My volunteers helped me to see the situation from both sides and guided me in considering my own thoughts and emotions to become more assertive in voicing my concerns and issues to my father. I am happy that we now have a more open and honest relationship.

We are going on nearly two years together as a circle and, along with Susan and Emmett, my volunteers have helped me immensely to keep me honest and develop a positive lifestyle, while supporting me in countless ways.

CoSA Ottawa has been an absolute blessing in my life, something I needed many, many years ago. I’m so grateful for the support of the volunteers to help me stay on track in my life, supporting me in a caring, non-judgmental, supportive and empathetic way. The support my volunteers give is, without question, something any former offender needs, regardless of the crime. I’m grateful that we can work together to ensure that I, and other core members, can return to the community while making positive life changes to keep ourselves and the community safe.”

– “Joe”

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