Mercy Vito-Campbell: Wielding Her Strength of Character to Break Through Struggles

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“I always think of my life experiences as teaching tools to make myself better.  I don’t look back with hope or regret.  Rather, I set goals while capitalizing on my past experiences.” 

– Mercy Vito-Campbell 

Strength of character is an immigrant’s superpower, and Mercy Vito-Campbell’s story is proof. Mercy went through a series of difficult experiences shortly after landing in Canada at the age of 19 as a permanent resident.  But these did not deter her from claiming a life that’s filled with boundless opportunities away from the judgement of a conservative community. 

Immigration was never easy, especially for Mercy.  What was already a challenging time of rebuilding her life in a new country became even more complex when she found out she was pregnant a month after arriving in Canada.  

As a newcomer, Mercy lacked the emotional strength to cope with this new layer of struggle. To worsen her situation, her conservative family deeply frowned upon her pregnancy as a teenager, and her baby’s father offered no help as their relationship ended a few months after she informed him about her pregnancy.  

Rather than give up, Mercy stayed resilient, and began rebuilding her life the best way she could. She got a minimum wage job at a distribution center where she packed clothes. This helped her to start buying her baby’s necessities. Mercy also researched and tapped into all the resources available to her and approached several organizations to inquire about services she could access. Unfortunately, her status as a sponsored permanent resident rendered her ineligible for many benefits, including public health insurance. However, she was able to access the Bridge Program. The Bridge Program referred her to a teen mom support group and other health services organizations. Through these organizations, she got free milk and vouchers for groceries, as well as counselling. 

Mercy also learned about available student loans and took advantage of them to upgrade her skills for better career opportunities. Eight months after giving birth, Mercy was back to school while holding three physically demanding part-time jobs. Every weekday, she was out of the house before sunrise, worked two jobs, went to school, then returned home way past sunset. And every Saturday, she was doing another job.  She barely had time for herself and did not have any free time to do her schoolwork. 

Her hard work and sacrifices paid off!  

She completed her coursework and got a job as an office administrator for a non-profit organization. Life was looking brighter until it threw another curveball at her.  At three years of age, her son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. She was a young single mother with a special needs child.  But Mercy refused to give up. With dedication and foresight, she was determined to be successful despite her situation. 

In time, Mercy’s role as an office administrator was expanded into an office manager role. She did not hesitate to say yes to this opportunity, which accelerated her career and propelled her to the future of her dreams. 

Mercy acknowledges her supervisor at the non-profit organization, who took a chance on her despite her lack of Canadian work experience and gave her expert advice and resources.  She taught Mercy how to get a referral to British Columbia’s Sunny Hill Health Centre to obtain a specialized developmental assessment for her son, and provided guidance as she applied for assistance and sought additional resources for her son’s needs.  The supervisor was a great mentor who understood Mercy’s struggles and gave her emotional support.   

Sunny Hill Health Centre confirmed her son’s diagnosis, which enabled Mercy to secure a government grant to hire a behaviour interventionist and other specialists to alleviate her child’s special needs.  She was also able to claim childcare subsidy from the government. 

Mercy sought the help of many people and not-for-profit organizations to ease her journey. She advises, “don’t just let resources stay in the background untapped. Tap into them because they will help you in a sense that you wouldn’t even know.” 

Mercy is most thankful to a family member who helped her take care of her son and taught her parenting skills. This relative served as her anchor who encouraged her to enjoy life with her son instead of constantly mulling over her problems. But what Mercy appreciated the most was the non-judgmental assistance she received.   

She is grateful to her friends who enabled her to have fun during her limited personal time and momentarily forget her problems.  Having “vent buddies” gave her the mental break she needed to move past her daily struggles. 

Although Mercy’s success story includes the priceless assistance she obtained from various individuals and organizations, it was her character, determination and foresight that brought her the life that she now lives.  She admits, “there are a lot of opportunities in Canada. But your success depends on what you do and what kind of character you have.” 

Now in her forties, Mercy has built a successful family, career and business life. She is married to a loving husband, and her son, now in his twenties, has reached a certain level of independence where he can work and care for himself.  She has also found a supportive and fun group of friends to accompany her on her life’s journey. She now holds an Accounting Manager position and manages her own real estate business and clothing store.  She continues to work hard to be able to enjoy an early and active retirement in the future. 

Her success doesn’t just end with her.  With her numerous skills, engaging personality, and keen vision, Mercy helps and leads various community associations in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast such as the Sunshine Coast Filipino Canadian Association, Gibsons Family Network, and Catholic Women’s League of Canada. 

With satisfaction, Mercy states “I was able to reach the goals I set around 20 years ago. I can confidently say I became successful even if I was a young, single mother.”  Mercy’s story shows that immigrants have the strength of character to break through their immigration struggles, with the superpower to claim the life of their dreams.

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