February is Black History Month and Home Suite Hope is sharing the stories of inspirational Black individuals in the HSH community.
Veteran HSH Case Manager Nikkian Hanson is currently HSH’s Interim Program Manager.
Sharing her experience in social services, Nikkian has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Equity Studies and a Diploma in Community and Justice Services, and a mission to break barriers and create equitable opportunity for marginalized and vulnerable individuals.
HSH participants are quick to praise Nikkian, including many Black single parents, who Nikkian has not only supported on their own inspirational journeys, but done so as a Black woman helping other Black women.
Tionna is a single mom on a mission to improve her economic situation to better support her son. Raised in the GTA by awesome grandparents, who stressed the importance of education, Tionna said their advice hit home when she gave birth to her son and realized she couldn’t afford to support her family as she wished.
"I had a reality check. I made up my mind I would seek a career I love and that paid a decent amount that would support my son and I. On this quest, I was introduced to Home Suite Hope. It’s not just a program for single moms to receive education. HSH’s program leads mothers into financial freedom with education, mental health, spiritual and financial supports.
"I can never fail to mention the great support my caseworker Nikkian has provided not only inside educational factors, but in almost every area of my life. Within six months I was able to secure housing, find a daycare for my son, budget my finances and build my credit, get my G licence, save up for a car and enroll in an HR program.
"Today I stand strongly as an independent mother on my way to financial freedom with the support of HSH and its donors, with an understanding that success, financial freedom and independence are achievable regardless of circumstances or challenges.
"This is me meeting the great expectations set by such great people in my life. This is me now being able to support my son and me in this journey we call life."
Kendra was born and raised in Burlington, Ontario. At 27, Kendra is a graduate of Mohawk College’s Child and Youth Care program who worked five years in the field and is now going back to school to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in the Child and Youth Care program at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Kendra lived at Shifra Homes while pregnant but connected with HSH while precariously housed as a new mom.
"I was paired with a Black case manager. Her name is Nikkian. Nikkian has taught me how to remain professional, but still advocate for the things you need in life. I was very blessed to have been paired with someone of colour.
"I have rarely dealt with anyone who is Black in my life other than my direct family. I feel Nikkian has supported and guided me to where I am today. My life has changed immensely through this program. I have learned about community resources, how to cope with being a single mother and dealing with life when I am no longer with Home Suite Hope. I hope to share my experience with others one day and inspire them to reach out to organizations like HSH during a time of need."
Diamond was raised in Jackson, Tennessee before moving to Canada at age17. An Oakville high school graduate, she began to struggle to find housing for her and her son after separating from her partner.
"Home Suite Hope supported me in finding housing, helped me to access resources for my son and myself and helped me to find a path in education. They never gave up on me even when I struggled to find my way.
"I am so happy to say that I have successfully become a certified Personal Support Worker (PSW) and I am excited about the next step of my life.
"At 28, my son and I are happy and have a bright future. I am now searching for full-time employment, and I am hopeful that with the support of HSH, I will secure a job in my field!"
Robin grew up in Antigua, attended school and worked full-time in the airline industry before becoming pregnant. Soon after her birth, Robin’s daughter was diagnosed with an intestinal disease which required surgery, during which her brain was injured. Robin’s daughter is quadriplegic and facing a lack of support and resources for children with special needs, and with no support from her daughter's father, Robin realized she could not remain in Antigua and moved to Canada in desperation. "After a year of not being able to find suitable childcare and resigning from several jobs, it became evident that I could no longer remain on the Island."
Arriving as visitors, Robin and her daughter faced several precarious housing arrangements spanning numerous years and significant financial hardship before the mom and daughter were introduced to Home Suite Hope.
"As the years went by (my daughter) grew tremendously and lifting her and her wheelchair up and down the
basement stairs daily had become very strenuous on my body. But I could not afford an apartment on ground level, then a friend and past participant introduced me to Home Suite Hope..."
Robin is now finishing her diploma in Computer Systems Technician – Software Engineering at Sheridan College and searching for full-time employment. "I am excited for this next stage!"