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Hannah is 51 and, until now, has never had a job in her life. This was not her choice.

To hear Hannah tell her story is to journey back with her through decades of unspeakable cruelty and abuse by her own family. But Hannah’s story is also about her journey forward to a life she never dreamed possible.

The trauma that Hannah endured for most of her life left her with severe PTSD and unable to work. She is fearful of so many things and finds it very hard to trust anyone. But, Hannah also has an amazing inner strength that drives her to keep trying to improve her life.

Hannah was volunteering at a local food bank when her supervisor talked to her about The Mission’s Food Services Training Program (FSTP). She wasn’t sure if she could handle being part of a class of students and working in a busy kitchen, but decided she needed to at least try. Twice during the five-month program she became so anxious that she felt she had to quit. But over time, and with the patience and support of Chef Ric, the kitchen staff, and her fellow students, Hannah persevered – and succeeded!

A few months ago Hannah graduated from the FSTP, and her sense of pride is matched by all who have come to know her and witnessed her journey.

Beyond this wonderful accomplishment, Hannah, who only finished Grade 8, is also working at The Mission’s on-site school through the Continuing Education department of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board accumulating credits that will allow her to earn her high school diploma.

Hannah will need help managing her PTSD for the rest of her life. But today she is working part-time in catering, continuing her volunteer work and her schoolwork, and feeling very hopeful about her future. Secure in the knowledge that she is admired and valued by so many, Hannah is finally beginning to live the life she deserves.