By Kevin Rushworth
Staff at Narrow Road Home have officially opened their crêperie restaurant on Third Avenue SE—a business that helps fund programming, but also empowers women supported at the healing house.
Guests and municipal leaders attended alongside Narrow Road Creperie & Co employees on May 17.
Kimberley Engbrecht, Narrow Road Home executive director, said the full time staff are program graduates, while others at the restaurant are at a stage in their lives to volunteer or work part time.
Proceeds are directed toward programming, as well as paying employees.
“You're (taking) a girl from a life of hopelessness and who's pretty much lost everything...to watching them walk out as entrepreneurs and business women, (that's) what this home was built for,” she said.
As reported, the Narrow Road Home assists women who are experiencing struggles in every day life, including family and relationship issues, substance abuse and self-image concerns among others.
“We want them to come into the (house) as a helping and healing home so they can begin to find out who they are with their identity and what their purpose is,” Engbrecht said.
Sherri Tanner, the site's public relations director, said the crêperie and the Salvage Soul Sisters Society—both financially assisting Narrow Road Home—help the women form relationships in town.
“We now get to see how these women have flourished and blossomed through the program,” she said.
Janice Armour, crêperie manager, is well known for her efforts with pickleball and is one of the lead employees alongside Jenny Anderson. The crêperie's head chef is Krystal McQuaid.
Her father Vince assisted with constructing the tables at the restaurant.
“Everything you see over there, that's their skills and talents,” Sherri said.
Whereas Sherri and her husband Tim purchased the building at 130 Third Avenue SE, all renovations of the site, an older, now former home, were done by Partners Development Group Ltd.
Engbrecht said the concept of a crêperie arose because a business venture was necessary to offset the programming costs—as many women or their families cannot afford the full fees.
“We didn't want to turn any women away, so we thought what would be an idea where we can make some money and have the funds funnel back into Narrow Road Home,” she said.
A similar model exists at Salvage Soul Sisters Society. Engbrecht said more women with less financial backing have sought out the Narrow Road Home in recent years.
“If a woman is a fit here and she really wants to work and do the program, we have always taken (her in),” Engbrecht said, noting there has been brief times where a wait list has been in play.
Some women have been referred to other treatment facilities where they might be a better fit, she said. Engbrecht said this might include situations where they have family members in other provinces.
“The need is so great in Canada, North America and the world, in fact,” she said, noting there needs to be further healing homes across the nation for those seeking help.
New home site
Even as the celebration recently took place at the restaurant, representatives with Narrow Road Home addressed the importance of another milestone—expanding their physical homes from one site to two.
“We were not actually looking for a new Narrow Road Home,” Engbrecht said, referring to their location at 36 Second Avenue SE. “It kind of fell into our lap.”
This new site, which houses Narrow Road Home residents, was constructed on the same plot as High River's first general hospital. That 111-year-old home was torn down after the 2013 flood.
The women moved into their new residence on Feb. 1, 2018.
Engbrecht said their new site was built using similar plans to the historic hospital. The healing home features nine bathrooms, eight bedrooms, three kitchens and has four floors, including the basement.
“Anyone whose heard of us being here has been very excited, because we've had four years of history in the town where we've been embraced and asked to contribute in so many ways,” she said.
The Noble House, located near Spitzee Elementary School, is now a home for graduates and staff, Engbrecht said. Their new home in the southeast houses 15 women, she added.
“It has been fantastic,” Sherri said, adding the more mature women being supported at the house are assisting the newcomers. “Having all the women under one roof is a real blessing.”
“It's really how the home was designed to be where one woman is helping another.”
As for community assistance, Engbrecht said feedback regarding Narrow Road Home continues to be positive. The Canalta group provided all the beds and linens for the new home, she added.