Nancy Oomen stands in the middle of her cheerily-decorated bedroom and holds up an Anne of Green Gables figurine. It’s her favourite one, she says. The TV shows, the movies, the books – she’s captivated by all of the stories.
It’s Anne’s adventurous spirit, her ability to overcome obstacles, as well aslife in the early 1900s that draws Nancy in time and again. And watching the Netflix version of the show on her own television in her own bedroom, Nancy feels fortunate to live in this era, in a comfortable home with people who care about her.
But it makes sense that Nancy, who travels on her own by city bus to and from spots around Hamilton, would identify so closely with Anne. Because at 45, Nancy embarked on her own big adventure when she moved out of her parents’ home and into YWCA Hamilton’s South Place. Living independently for the first time, she wanted to make sure her room was a true expression of her personality. So she carefully arranged Anne of Green Gables figurines on the window ledge, on her dresser, on wall shelves near the pottery pieces she’s painted during excursions to Crock a Doodle in Stoney Creek.
Because, as it turns out, Nancy is an artist. She discovered her talent for creative arts through Y’Art classes at the YWCA Hamilton, through jewellery-making classes, and through painting classes at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Once she started exploring her own independent interests, there’s been no stopping the steady stream of art Nancy creates and that graces the walls of the bungalow she shares with two other housemates, under the supervision of a YWCA Hamilton developmental services staff.
“The staff give me some space, not always watching everything I do,” says Nancy, who has learned coping and calming strategies like problem-solving, self-talk and writing in her journal. She’s learned to take space from a problem, to be mindful, to think about how she’s feeling, to deal with each issue on its own as it arises.
And, of course, staff member Heather’s macaroni and cheese with crumbly bits on top helps, too. It’s Nancy’s favourite meal and one she looks forward to after a day of adventuring or even working at the part-time job she’s held for more than a decade.
“I see my parents on a weekly basis. We go to church every Wednesday and Sunday. I have lunch at their house on Sundays after church. I keep in contact with my sister and brother. We talk on the phone, text and visit each other. We also go on vacation together. I’ve been to Texas, Sudbury and Cancun, Mexico with my family.”