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Apr10ThuA search for daycare for her grandchild led Doreen Alamaras to an even greater discovery. April 10, 2014 by Linda Leigh and Ken Ramstead
Recently, Doreen Alamaras was looking at some photos taken at a dinner hosted by The Salvation Army's Scarborough Citadel church in Toronto.
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- Faith & Friends
“As I looked through the photo album, I spotted someone who looked familiar,” smiles Doreen. “Who is that? I realized it was me, stress-free and happy. I know that whenever I have a problem, I can go there. It's like family to me now.”
Three years ago, Doreen became a single parent to her newborn granddaughter, Tiffany. Born to drug-addicted parents, Tiffany tested positive for illegal drugs in her system. As a result, she was placed immediately in the custody of her paternal grandmother to save her from being placed in foster care.
“I didn't know if I could do it,” says Doreen of raising her grandchild, “but I would do anything to protect Tiffany. She doesn't deserve people who want her today and dump her tomorrow.”
Doreen was on a fixed income, however, and faced financial challenges, including often being forced to choose rent over food.
While Doreen did find suitable accommodations, the next challenge she faced was that of finding daycare for Tiffany. Children's Aid, the courts and Doreen herself determined that it was best for everyone if Tiffany was in daycare. Tiffany had developmental problems such as speech delay and difficulty interacting socially with other children.
“I had telephoned several different daycares in the area but for some reason, The Salvation Army name just stood out,” says Doreen.
She duly contacted the daycare operated by Scarborough Citadel and was given a tour of the facilities by Kim Sturge, the supervisor.
“It immediately felt like family,” says Doreen. “It was hard for me to leave Tiffany with anyone, but the Salvation Army daycare was different. We were welcomed with open arms, and before the first day was over Tiffany was literally bouncing up and down with joy as she pointed out to me what she had made at crafts.
“Her participation in daycare has improved her speech—she doesn't need speech therapy anymore—and she is learning to share and interact with others.
“Tiffany gets up in the morning with a big smile on her face,” Doreen says. “She can't wait to go to daycare.”
“You Didn't Say 'Amen' ”
Now that Doreen had found a daycare for her granddaughter, she also found something else.
“I lost my faith after my husband had died,” Doreen explains. “I never thought I'd get it back.”
But as she started to introduce Tiffany to the Bible, her own faith started to grow again. Soon, the two were attending church together at Scarborough.
“It's like being with a large family every Sunday,” she says. “Everyone knows us by name and everyone takes the time to say hello to Tiffany. She is so loved and protected there.
“Tiffany never goes to sleep anymore without saying her prayers, and her list of the people we need to bless is getting longer and longer.”
One evening, Tiffany woke Doreen up in the middle of the night: “Nanny, Nanny, Nanny!” she cried out.
A frantic Doreen rushed to her granddaughter's bedroom. “What's the matter, Tiff?”
“You didn't say 'Amen' at the end of our prayers,” she told her grandmother.
Doreen had to laugh, and gave her granddaughter a big hug.
“That's what's going through your head?” I thought. “How wonderful!”
Tiffany was recently dedicated, a public commitment where the child is given back to God with the promise that Doreen will do everything within her power to raise her granddaughter in a godly way.
“With the help and support of The Salvation Army, I feel human again,” says Doreen. “Having a place where I belong and feel strong is something I haven't had in a long time.”