Inspirational women thriving in an inspirational space.
That was the exact vibe I got visiting Marie Rose Place, a new, affordable housing project in Winnipeg for immigrant women and their children. Next door to the centre is Holy Names House of Peace, a landing pad/safe home for single, refugee and immigrant women. Once these women are able to get on their feet, and secure work, they’ve got access to a viable housing option that offers all the basic amenities and of course, a warm community. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy on the eyes either.
When EQ3 got wind of the project, we got involved by providing affordable furnishings for the building’s 40 suites and rec room.
Last Friday, our photographer Charles and I were lucky enough to get a tour and learn all about the 6-story Edmonton Street apartment. Fallon Gladu, design consultant for the project acted as our guide, leading us through the bright and punchy coloured hallways where the smell of curry heavily lingered in the best way imaginable.
Our first stop was the main floor rec room. It’s a work in progress as the team at MRP will be adding elements of warmth to make this common area feel more like home. The intention was to create a space for all the tenats to use, where they can hang out and get to know one another a little better.
Next, we visited one of the current tenant’s suites. Regina Silva and her daughter Maria Francesca warmly greeted us and welcomed us into their home.
When Regina and her daughter moved in, they had all the basic building blocks in their space – a sofa, beds, lighting, a coffee table and entertainment unit all from EQ3. It was amazing to see how they personalized their space to make it uniquely theirs. Note the coloured lanterns hanging from the Six Globe Floor Lamp.
And the feminine touches of pink.
I sat with Regina and learned a little bit more about her journey and life at Marie Rose Place, while Francesca showed Charles around their place.
Suzy: Where are you from?
Regina: Manila, Phillipines.
Suzy: How did you end up in Winnipeg?
Regina: Ended up? Am I ending now?
(We all laughed, and I knew then I’d really like her.)
Regina: I was given a chance to live here. It’s a new challenge, but at the same time, a new opportunity for me. A new place to explore.
Suzy: What do you think of the cold?
Regina: Well that’s the main challenge – but I see it as an opportunity to create something. Thinking of an event to make it an attraction – outdoor sports, a fun run.
Suzy: What do you do?
Regina: I work at a call centre in the evenings, but during the day I’m studying business – event planning, advertising, graphics, internet marketing. My daughter wants to take up architecture. If you see her bedroom she’s really very meticulous and organized.
Case in point.
Suzy: Where had you been living prior to Marie Rose Place and what were the conditions like?
Regina: I was living on David Street, by the Perimeter. It was a basic apartment – nothing special, but clean. But with this – it’s like I’m living in a hotel. It’s very comfortable.
Suzy: What was your initial reaction when you saw where you’d be living?
Regina: I didn’t expect it to be so nice and modern. It’s my dream to live in a place like this.
Suzy: How has your new environment impacted your daily life?
Regina: I’m more creative and more productive. And it’s accessible to everything – any place I want to go. People told me not to go downtown, but I think it’s safe. I’ve found it’s really nice. For me, I see people going into the office as early as 5 and 6. That motivates me. It’s a big difference.
(Did I forget to mention the 11-foot ceilings and big windows?)
Suzy: What’s it like being surrounded by other women who have been in a similar situation?
Regina: I found a new family here – we help each other. Especially the single moms. We help with the schedules and especially with the kids: picking them up and sending them to the bus stop. We’re helping each other.
Suzy: What kind of activities do you enjoy doing at home?
Regina: Whenever we’re home, we’re cleaning, organizing things, studying, eating. My daughter loves to bake.
Suzy: What does she bake?
Regina: Dark chocolate cake.
We listen to music, watch television, spend time on our laptops. I love reading business and entrepreneur magazines. I took fine arts – I used to paint and do graphics
Suzy: Where’s your favourite place to spend your time in here?
Regina: The nook – I like to read, do my work, eat here. Actually, everywhere is my favourite spot.
Suzy: What are your next steps?
Regina: Pursue my online business, while travelling back and forth between the Philippines.
Our visit left me feeling totally inspired – Regina’s optimism was incredibly refreshing. It’s amazing how your environment can lend itself so much to that. This bright and airy, modern space continues to improve the lives of these women and keep them motivated.
I think I can speak for both Charles and I when I say that visit was the best start to the weekend. Hopefully hearing about it does the same for you too.