Category Archives: Chosen Charities say Thanks

Ed Video Says “Thank you!”

Dawn Matheson, interdisciplinary artist and former board member of Ed Video, says a wholehearted “Thank you!” for our April donation, which purchased audio and video equipment to support upcoming local video projects.

 

 

Hi. First of all I am in awe of this huge movement of women who support community organizations and initiatives.

When women come together, look out, I tell you! Every year that I age, I recognize the power of women more and more. Amazing.

In summation, your commitment is fantastic and we are all overwhelmed by your generosity.

 

 

My name is Dawn Matheson and I am a past board member of Ed Video and I am currently a working artist who has been involved in a number of outreach and production projects with Ed Video over the last decade and a half.

Just at this moment I am producing five videos in partnership with Ed Video, The Guelph Film Festival and Guelph Museum called Transported: Objects of Significance and the Immigrant Experience—the objects themselves are to be displayed in the museum screened alongside the videos that tell the stories of the objects and the people who treasure them.

I’m also researching how to get more people in to Ed Video making videos- people living with disability and difference, and especially those in the Deaf community whose language is visual, where video is a natural medium.

For nearly 20 years I’ve been producing video with community members in Guelph beginning with my first workshop on documentary production in my 20s at Ed Video where a group of us went on to record over 70 interviews with long term Guelph residents- seniors- who shared their lived experiences in our town, now used and stored as a valued digital archive of everyday life in Guelph’s history.

I was asked to speak to you because I understand the value and importance of your donation to Ed Video.

As someone who works in the arts and towards a more compassionate understanding and accepting society through art production and community collaboration, funds are not easy to come by.

Art is not always awarded monetarily, and yet art is costly to produce. It takes skill, the labour of the artist, space to create, time, and the materials necessary to create— which brings me to your donation.

I wasn’t involved in the acquisition of the equipment, but Liz and the Ed staff tell me that thanks to the generous donation from 100 Women Who Care, we have purchased filmmaking equipment that enables us to undertake multiple media projects including story production with and for Guelph’s Syrian refugee community.

Our focus has been on providing a versatile selection of cameras, lights, and audio recording equipment that improves upon or augments Ed Video’s existing gear. We purchased two cameras: the Panasonic GH5 and G85, both easy to use but also capable of producing beautiful broadcast quality video and photos. We chose these cameras for their cutting edge features, and also because their acquisition provided us with a matched set with our previous Panasonic GH4, allowing for multi-camera shoots.

These cameras are supported with multiple new lenses, making our collection well-rounded and higher quality. We purchased multiple lights to fit various situations, a versatile three-light kit ideal for both interview and narrative style filmmaking, a powerful battery-powered light that can be used for portable filmmaking, and a small easy to use light kit for emerging filmmakers.

We have added a pro-level audio recorder that is simple enough for anyone to operate. With this project, participants can record great sounding audio and conduct multi-person interviews.

Liz Dent, director of Ed Video and Interdisciplinary Artist Dawn Matheson pose with a big cheque which represents the April donation from 100WWCG!

To bring all of this great gear together we have purchased a selection of microphones, tripods, stands, and a selection of other supporting technical equipment.

We have additionally upgraded one of our computers so projects can be edited with ease.

This array of equipment purchased makes a great impact to what we are able to provide, and whom we are able to support.

Your funds have given us the means to support our refugee community in creating and telling meaningful stories, and the tools to produce work that helps them to connect with the local and greater community.

The extended network of Ed Video members and artists and creatives in Guelph and surrounding areas will also benefit greatly.

Ed Video knows that just having equipment, while it is critical for work to be produced, it isn’t the only piece, or maybe not even the part you are interested in.

It does take engaging the right video artists, the subjects and the time to set up production.

The outreach work has begun to work with Syrian community in Guelph. We expect two or three different projects to begin this fall:

One partnering with Lakeside Hope house working directly with Syrian women in their newcomer program,

Another is being developed to connect refugee youth and Canadian youth– to help build skills, create friendships and foster a sense of belonging in a community through art production and story-sharing,

And the third is a project engaging a local Guelph- Syrian woman to act as interpreter and to aid individuals on a one- to one basis in telling their stories of migration. Her preference is to do this individually and we’ve followed her lead: taking an approach that is sensitive to how different cultures work and how they wish to be represented.

It’s a slow process to start, but I can attest that these production projects can make a huge difference to the participants’ lives. It takes a long time to create and produce video especially where we are looking at skill development and relationships and most importantly, building trust. Work done right with mutual respect and empowerment might take a year or two in development.

So, with this in mind, Ed video doesn’t yet have any videos to show you tonight.

To give you a sense of the work Ed Video does- Liz has asked me to take a few minutes to tell you about one of the projects I am currently working on as Lead Artist in partnership with Art Gallery of Guelph and Ed Video.

The project began a year ago and will continue on to a Phase Two beginning next spring.

In A Sense of Wonder I partnered with Deaf youth and kids with hearing loss (ages 8 to 22) in Guelph and throughout Ontario engaging with multimedia, performance, and video in an effort to provide access and insight into d/Deaf arts – what was really an exploration of the presence of deafness over the absence of sound.

This was done through multiple experiential workshops where the participants led the content- they decided what interested them and how they wanted to express themselves and share their world.

Four successful workshopped projects from A Sense of Wonder were just installed as videos by myself and Ed Video at The Art Gallery of Guelph and downtown  at 10 Carden in a window projection across for City Hall for four Months.

The long-term goal is for the Wonder troupe of children to be empowered artistically, socially and culturally, to build a future of personal narrative, a sense of owning story and representation and possibility, and to collaborate on a deeper level across differences and ages to address barriers to inclusion for everyone through the experience of art-making.

Much the same as the goals of Ed Video.

Ed Video will be working hard to create the same kind of links to the refugee community in future productions, thanks to all of you.

In closing I just want to thank you again for your kind donation and assure you that your money will have an impact at Ed Video for many years to come.

Start2Finish says, “Thank you!”

Marie Dennison, Regional Director of Guelph’s Start2finish Running & Reading Clubs, says “Thank You!”

Thank you 100 Women Who Care for inviting me here this evening. My name is Marie Dennison, Regional Director of Guelph’s Start2finish Running & Reading Clubs.

We at Start2Finsh, would like to extend our deepest gratitude to 100 Women Who Care Guelph whom so generously donated to the Running & Reading Clubs of Guelph. The money you have donated was allocated to the launch of our new Running & Reading Club at Westwood Public School, equipping an additional 60 children living in poverty in Guelph with the building blocks to graduate and succeed.  The funds will go towards running shoes, t-shirts, fitness equipment, books, and the year-end 5K Running & Reading Challenge in May where the children will have the opportunity to achieve the goals they have been working so hard towards over the past months.

Our mission at Start2Finish’s is to break the cycle of child poverty by providing ongoing educational support to Canada’s at risk children throughout their school years, nurturing mind, body and social health so they are empowered to succeed and become role models for change.

Marie Dennison from Start 2 Finish displays the backpacks that our donations helped to purchase.

In 2000, Brian Warren, former CFL All-Star and Grey Cup Champion, founded the Start2Finish program by distributing backpacks filled with quality schools supplies and books to children in at-risk schools, and hosting literacy festivals. In his broad survey of research and through many years of experience working with kids both in the USA and here in Canada, he knew that a weekly component to the program was critical to seeing meaningful change. Supporters like retired Olympic marathoner Silvia Ruegger, Alison Rochon, and others were very crucial in helping put together a comprehensive 32-week program of fitness and running. The reading portion was combined with the physical activity as a critical complement to help kids address low literacy, an accurate indicator as early as grade 1 of those prone to dropout in high school (Children living in poverty are 50% more likely to drop out before their high school graduation). Putting these two unlikely components together, the Start2Finish “Fitness Literacy Model” was addressing what he coined as the “BIG 7” – seven factors that correlate with students’ success and are tied to socio-economic status.

These factors are:

  1. Health
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Effort & Energy
  4. Cognitive-Capacity
  5. Mind-Set
  6. Relationship and
  7. Stress

Some quick facts to share:

  • 1 million Canadian children, or 1 in every 6, lives at or below the poverty line. 
  • Regardless of the community, the average low income family in Canada lives on only $24,458 per year (family of 4)
  • The cost of poverty to the Ontario taxpayer is $13 billion a year when looking at health care, criminal justice and lost productivity. 
  • The Start2Finish Fitness Literacy Model is a comprehensive, strategic approach that produces long-term social change
  • We have a $17 social return on investment for every $1 donated. The benefits of this investment in human development accrue to the individual over a lifetime. 
  • Start2Finish has empowered 100,000 Canadian children and families living in poverty since 2000. 
  • Our Running & Reading Club Fitness Literacy Model is currently operating in 38 diverse communities of complexity nationwide, including 4 schools in Guelph. 
  • Evaluations done at the Running & Reading Clubs by our Scientific Advisory Group volunteers and school administrators have shown the following results:
    • 62% improvement in fitness
    • 87% of children achieving grade level literacy scores and/or improving in literacy by 1-2 grade levels
    • 85% improvement in non-cognitive character development* (qualitative data)

          through the combination of physical activity, learning and mentorship, participation in the Running & Reading Club program is resulting in:

      • Less absenteeism
      • Less bullying
      • Better behaviour and performance in school
      • And  76% lower potential of children dropping out of school

“I struggled in school, I struggled with my confidence, I struggled to develop discipline, I struggled to set goals for my life because I couldn’t see beyond the community that I lived in; I couldn’t see beyond the poverty that was such a reality to me. It seemed at the time that there was no other way for me to go and no other doors that were open to me. I had no idea what I was capable of doing and what I was capable of being. Start2Finish played an important role in my life because they helped me re-shape my future. They helped me carve out a plan for myself, and they motivated me to succeed.

Now they have inspired me to change my country for the better. Today, I am a university graduate, I recently graduated from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Training Academy, and I have been posted to British Columbia as a Constable. Now I’m advocating on behalf of other kids who can’t speak for themselves. Thank you, Start2Finish, for paving the Pathway of Hope and helping me build my cycle of success.”

Start2Finish Scholarship Recipient and Program Graduate

Thank you again for inviting me to join you this evening and you’re supporting our children in Guelph through Start2finish Running & Reading Clubs.

The Guelph Chapter of Association of Parent Support Groups of Ontario (APSGO) Says “Thank you!”

Randy Betts, Head Parenting Coach, and a volunteer for the Guelph chapter of APSGO says a heartfelt “Thank you!” to 100WWCG for their October donation.

My name is Randy Betts, and I am a volunteer parenting coach for the Guelph Chapter of APSGO, the Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario. On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to express our extreme gratitude for the generous donation provided by the hundred plus women who care of Guelph.

It may come as a surprise to some of you that it was the care and concern of 2 women who started our charity more than 30 years ago. They cared about the poor life choices that their teenagers were making. They also cared about the impact that their childrens’ behaviour was having on their relationship with their child and their family and ultimately they were concerned that other families might be going through the same struggles. I owe a debt of gratitude to these women and the many other dedicated parent volunteers that I credit with saving my family. These APSGO parents shared their stories of struggle, gave me hope and ultimately helped me to establish peace in my home and rebuild a broken relationship with my troubled teen. APSGO continues to provide invaluable support to the parents and guardians of acting out youth in Guelph and various other Ontario communities.

Even though APSGO has provided life-changing coaching services to hundreds of families in Guelph/Wellington and the surrounding areas, we are still a relatively unknown entity. As our co-founder, Helen Jones, who is still very active in our organization, has been known to say; “APSGO is the best parent support group that no-one knows about”.

As APSGO parents know, there is a profound need for the services that we provide based on our connections with schools and numerous youth agencies and community groups in Guelph and Wellington. The youth in our community are struggling with life and face adversities such as drug and alcohol abuse, on-line bullying, depression, anxiety, self-injury, eating disorders and a range of other experiences that impact their quality of life and leave parents tearing their hair out.

Our coaches are dedicated, have first-hand experience and specific training to help parents in dealing with acting-out-youth. Many of our parent graduates, myself included, will attest to the positive effects that this program has not only had on the way that we deal with our children, but also in the interactions that we have with friends, family, coworkers and even complete strangers. The APSGO principles of building positive relationships are important in all areas of life.

Your donations are immensely important in helping us to reach out to our local community. APSGO Guelph will be using the funds from the 100 Women who care to fund a conference for parents of teenagers and young adults in our community. This event will provide valuable information for families and others supporting youth in our area, whether they are exhibiting high risk behaviours or not. The conference will provide valuable information and tools for parents of teens and older millennials while providing greatly needed exposure and networking opportunities for APSGO and other experts and organizations with-in our community.

Our conference committee had our first meeting last week and we are hard at work in pulling together all of the elements to make this a one-of-a-kind parenting conference for our community. Once again, I would like to thank you for your generous gift to APSGO, but also to your community. We look forward to updating you with more details about our event in the near future and hope that many of you are able to attend yourselves or recommend our program and services to others. APSGO Guelph meets weekly from 7:30 until 9 p.m. at Alexander Hall, Room 265 at the University of Guelph. For more details about our organization, please visit APSGO.ca

A Thank You from Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington

Thank you to “100 Women Who Care” for donating over $15,000 to support Minds in Motion in Guelph.

Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington executive director Michelle Martin expresses thanks to 100WWCG for their July donation.

Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington executive director Michelle Martin expresses thanks to 100WWCG for their July donation.

What is Minds in Motion?  Minds in Motion is a program that incorporates physical and mental stimulation for people living with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and their care partners.  Two main components make up the social program.   45 to 60 minutes of physical activity led by a trained physical activity program leader and 45 to 60 minutes of mentally stimulating activities facilitated by a Minds in Motion coordinator and volunteers.

The two hour program is a great opportunity to establish new friendships with others who are living with the same experiences.  People can be seen for who they are, not someone with dementia.  People are in a truly safe environment where they will not be singled out, made fun of, stared at or ridiculed in any way for having a strange behaviour, saying something out of place or not being able to follow the moves.  They are in a truly accepting environment where they are free to be who they are.  This is a critical step in having people access programming.

What is the benefit of the program?  Combining physical, mental and social stimulation can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and may slow the disease progression.  For the person with dementia, Minds in Motion can improve balance, mobility, flexibility, alertness and can lead to an increased sense of confidence.  For the care partner, the program is an opportunity to focus on their own health, and to find support from other care partners.  And for both the person with dementia and their care partner, Minds in Motion provides an enjoyable activity that can reduce their sense of isolation.

Your support will provide 66 people with 24 weeks of programming.  This is a phenomenal impact for our community.  You are providing an inclusive program where people can thrive.

Minds in Motion is a province wide program that has been extensively evaluated.  Here are some interesting results:

  • 96% of participants report they enjoy the program
  • 99% report that they felt they were treated with respect while participating in Minds in Motion
  • 98% felt they were listened to during the program
  • 95% of participants enjoyed the physical activity
  • 91% enjoyed the therapeutic part of the program
  • 97% felt the program facilitators did a good job
  • 95% would recommend Minds in Motion to others
  • On average, participants endurance improved by 20% and strength by 15%
  • 90% of recreation centre staff and program volunteers identify an increase in their knowledge related to older adults and dementia

I would like to welcome Thayna Walter, Coordinator of Minds in Motion, to share some personal client stories.

Thayna’s Testimonials

Thayna Walker, Minds In Motion program co-ordinator, Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington

Thayna Walker, Minds In Motion program co-ordinator, Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington

From D

I am pleased to be able to say a few words about the Minds in Motion program. This is the fourth time I have been participated in the program and I am so pleased I have had the opportunity to be part of the program again!

I am not an expert on dementia but I have been living with it, and am always looking for a way to live my life as normal as possible.  When we heard that the Alzheimer Society was presenting a program designed for persons with memory problems, I remember saying “that’s for me”!  The mind portion would keep my mind busy and the motion portion would keep my blood circulating.  From the reading I have done, I understand that keeping the blood flowing through the brain and being social is an excellent way to keep the brain agile.  These are two things that could possibly help –  how can you go wrong!

From L

I remember the first time we went to Minds in Motion and being really excited to find out that it was not only okay, but important to really set the bar high for physical exercise with people with dementia…. not demanding it, but inviting it.

I was such a relief to be socializing with other couples who were facing the same thing. There was no worry about others feeling uncomfortable in a social setting with us as a couple (as so many of our friends did at that point). That was one of the most difficult things to experience as our friends gradually got used to my husband’s dementia and we all got used to not being able to be together in the same social settings that we had always taken for granted. It was such a joy to have fun together as a couple again with other couples.

Meeting other families living with dementia has led to some very deep and mutually supportive friendships as couples and as care partners. I have been meeting with the same group of women privately every two weeks for a couple of years now. It is extremely important to us and every time we think maybe we don’t need to do this, so often a crisis happens to one of us and we reach out for support. The Alzheimer Society is instrumental in helping people connect with each other because they support us in such a healthy way.

I think that finally I want to say that being involved in such a group which focuses on a positive way of living life as fully as we can gives us hope, not maybe over the final outcome, but definitely on the journey being manageable and even often enjoyable.

alzheimerThe Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington is so appreciative to “100 Women Who Care”.  Your generous gift is truly making a difference for our community.  Let’s help everyone to have their best day.

A Thank You From the North End Harvest Market

Thank you 100 Women Who Care Guelph for your wonderful donation. Because of your generosity, we have been able to stabilize the market for six months, feeding 200 to 250 people a week.

market pics3

Your donation also symbolizes the care and compassion of your organization to not only feed these families, but to share in the compassion, openness and dignity these families deserve without prejudice. Your donation provided $500 a week for produce.

Harvest Sign

In the last six months we have spent a total of $16,209.01 on food, registered an average of 173 people per week, distributing $623 in food per week which averages out to $3.30 per person per week.

Barb McPhee, manager of the North End Harvest Market and Harvey, the Market's mascot.

Barb McPhee, manager of the North End Harvest Market and Harvey, the Market’s mascot.

The following testimonials are from some of our Market users.

“I am a senior living on ODSP and being able to get at least a few fruits and vegetables makes me happy – I can then use my money for other nutritious items like bread and milk. My health is improving slowly, but my sense of dignity is improving faster because of the North End Harvest Market.”

“I am so thankful to the Gang at the North End Harvest Market for not only giving us fresh fruits and vegetables, but they make sure that they provide them to us with dignity, discretion and a whole lot of fun.”

canada day

Canada Day at the Market

 

 

 

“My kids just love coming to the North End Harvest Market. They ask every week if they can come – they have so much fun and get treats and get to join in the entertainment.”

 

 

 

shopping cart

 

“Thank You North End Harvest Market for giving my family a chance to get out and have some fun, my kids love the entertainment – if only for an hour, it makes our day.”

 

child

 

 

“My kids are actually starting to take an interest in vegetables as they get to pick them out themselves and the great volunteers talk to them about how good they are for them and how they can help mom cook them.”

 

 

“I suffer from a terminal illness that affects mainly my lung function, but there is nothing more soothing and therapeutic for me than to come and sing at the Market and watching the children dance.  Thanks to the Market for giving me this.”

guitar

A Thank You From Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County

It is my pleasure to be here this evening to thank you in person for your very generous donation of almost $13,800. You may need to consider changing your name to “more than 100 women who care”.

meeting 7 pic 1

Sheila Markle, Executive Director, Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County

This approach to raising funds in our community is not only creative and efficient but it also helps to bring women in our community together to have a very large impact on the health of our community and at the same time network and get to know one another. In this time in our world, it is this kind of creative thinking that will help us go that extra mile in our community.

Our organization is very grateful to have been the recipient of your donation at your last meeting. I want to thank Laura Greenway-Balnar for what I have heard was a very heartfelt plea to support the youth who have previously been in our care and are no longer formally involved with us when they turn 21.

 

As Laura indicated to you, this is a very difficult time in a youth’s life particularly when they often have little in the way of support from family and friends.  Laura talked to you about the fact that in Canadian Society, more and more young adults are staying with their families well into their twenties.  In 2006, 44% of young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 lived in their parent’s home, up from 32% just twenty years earlier.  The figure is much higher if one looks at those aged 20 to 24, where 60 % are living with their family.  More adult children also return to their parental homes within five years of first leaving, at triple the rates of two generations ago. During those years, parents continue to provide resources and support as young adults pursue higher education, find employment and become independent.

For many of our youth this is a very difficult time. Most don’t have those strong networks of support. They can’t take reassurance that when something goes wrong, someone will be there to support them or give them a hand. Without the networks of support from family and friends, they often feel lost, alone and scared.  Without people in their lives to help them navigate these years of transition to adulthood many experience further difficulties.  Youth leaving care are over-represented in almost every way – in the justice system, in mental health services, addiction services, they are under-employed, under-housed and often become parents far too soon.

Our youth with fewer networks of support struggle to graduate from high school, stay in post-secondary programs if they happen to make it there in the first place, find jobs that pay well or places to live that aren’t fraught with lots of other difficulties. Without parents to support them, they often don’t obtain drivers licenses.  Without a license or a car, many jobs are not attainable. The list of difficulties that one encounters when you are young and don’t have the typical support systems that many Canadian youth do, goes on and on.

Our main goal is to assist our youth to leave us with those networks of support – to have at least one adult in their lives who will unconditionally care about them well into their adult years and hopefully forever. We are really focusing on that as we believe that holds a big part of the secret to success.  When people feel loved, cared about and important to at least one person or to many – they tend to do much better. Many of the youth we work with deal with relational poverty*….not having those special people in their lives. (*reference work done by Bruce Perry related to relational poverty)

While the money you provided will not assist our youth in having people in their lives to care for them, at least not directly, it can be used to assist them in small but meaningful ways that may help them to overcome barriers that are in the way of their success.  The following are some examples of what we have done to support older youth:

  • Access to Financial Literacy Education which is geared to their unique needs
  • Emergency gift cards to Walmart or Zehrs
  • Assistance purchasing work related clothing/tools
  • Driver education costs towards a road test
  • Dollars for education costs that are not covered by provincial programs
  • Housing or transportation assistance so that they can access training programs

Stories:

In partnership with Conestoga College and Second Chance Employment we offered the Child Welfare Youth in Skilled Trades Program (CWYST) which provided participants academic upgrading, as well as accredited training in a skilled trade.  As the program continued, one of the students who lived in Wellington County, indicated that he was having transportation issues and was no longer able to drive in to attend classes at Conestoga College.  We were able to obtain housing for him at the University of Guelph and were also able to arrange for him to be picked up on Monday and returned to his County accommodation after class on Friday so that he could continue in the program.

A young man who participated in the program to obtain welding credentials had some significant challenges adhering to the schedule and study plan.  He completed the program and managed to obtain the Conestoga Certificate but did not have sufficient welding skills to obtain the his official CWB ticket which he needed to apply for work.  He worked to obtain a valid driver’s license (which many of the students also did not have) and then approached us for some assistance to redo the welding exam.  Given the kind of training which was provided – it took thinking outside the box while exploring available options which would provide the specific skills this young adult required.  In the end, we helped him to access 2 weeks of further welding training so that he could retake the welding test.  He now holds a CWB ticket.

Having access to funds that can be used specifically for these older youth allows us to be creative in helping them to problem solve and overcome barriers that keep them from being successful.

Future plans

Extended Drivers Education Training

We are really excited about this because having a drivers’ license is such an important step in removing future barriers. If you don’t have parents with a car, don’t have money to buy a car, don’t have people in your life who will teach you to drive, how do you learn this valuable skill? If you don’t drive, many careers, education programs, opportunities are not available.

So it is our goal to ensure that every youth who leaves us has their license.  However, we know that there are many who have left us that don’t. We will be approaching companies in Guelph to ask them to partner with us in offering an extended program to ensure that youth without access to a car can learn to drive and be successful on a drivers’ education test.  We will assist with the cost of this program and the cost of obtaining the G1 license and test. As you know Driver’s Education is a significant cost and is unattainable for those living in poverty.

On behalf of all of the youth that your donation will assist, I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This donation is the first in establishing a separate fund to assist those youth over 21 who may need to come back for a helping hand from time to time to be successful in reaching their goals.  We can’t thank you enough.

Sheila Markle,                                                                                                                                   Executive Director, Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County

A Thank You from GW Women in Crisis

Sly Castaldi, Executive Director of Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, extends her heartfelt thanks for our donation last quarter.

Sly Castaldi, Executive Director of Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, extends her heartfelt appreciation for our donation last quarter.

I want to start out by saying thank you very much for being selected to receive your generous donation. I think what 100 Women Who Care is doing in this community is absolutely phenomenal and I want to explain why.

I think our stories are somewhat parallel. Women in Crisis started in 1977 with five young women at the University of Guelph. Women between the ages of 16 and 25 are at most risk of sexual violence and these young women wanted to do something about the sexual violence happening on campus. One woman’s boyfriend was president of the University’s Central Students Association and he provided them with a room and a phone. As soon as the rape crisis line opened they were receiving calls. They soon realized they needed to do something about women being assaulted in their own homes. They found someone to provide them with an apartment and started hiding women in this tiny little apartment. One of the first women they hid was Marianne, who our shelter is named after, and her children. They could only house one family at a time, so as the need started to get bigger they got a house. They applied for seed funding, hired a staff member and started to become both a sexual assault and a domestic violence service. Then they started getting calls from women in the county and they realized women who live in the rural areas of Wellington County face particular kinds of barriers. Again they sought out funding and started providing the Rural Women’s Support Program.

I wanted to tell you our “her story” – of how the organization came about, because five women cared and started to do something that turned into what we have today – Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis.

I don’t always like to refer to ourselves as a charity because I believe it is a right for women and children to live a life free of violence and to live to their full potential. So I am resentful of the fact that every year we have to fundraise 15% of our budget just to keep the doors open to serve the 1500 women a year who walk through our doors. The Transitional and Housing Support Program, which was showcased here, is the program that sees the largest number of women. We provide services to anywhere between 600 and 700 women every year in that program area alone. Not all women need to go to Marianne’s Place, but they need help figuring out how they’re going to leave, how they’re going to support themselves, where they’re going to live and we provide that support so at some point they can make those decisions. Even if the women have left the abuse does not stop, it just gets more sophisticated. We are there if they need help with custody and access, help with finance, help with housing, help with the family, help with trying to rebuild a family outside of what they knew. They may need support with Family and Children’s Services, because if you have children, you are forever tied to your abusive partner.

The interesting part about our organization is it’s unique in Ontario and it’s unique in Canada as we provide fully integrated programs and services. We don’t ask women to separate their lives and go over here to deal with sexual violence and over there to deal with domestic violence. Chances are they have experienced violence on that continuum and we work with them on what their needs are at that time. We don’t ask women to make a choice, to leave, to do anything. We don’t make their choices, it’s their life. We respect the choices that they make because they are the expert of their own life. Our slogan is “You don’t have to be hit to be hurt. You don’t have to leave to get help. You don’t have to be in crisis to call.” This resonates with women in our community.

Today we are comprised of a 28-bed shelter called Marianne’s Place, a Sexual Assault Centre, a Rural Women’s Support Program, a Transition and Housing Program, and a Family Court Support Program. We provide services to 1,500 women a year through our organization. Our 24-hour crisis line responds to between 3,000 or more calls every year. That’s in this community, that’s in your community. Those five young women who wanted to do something about sexual violence had no idea what they were about to create and build for this community.

I want you to know the story of our beginnings, because it’s a brilliant story. It’s a story of survival, it’s a story of meeting needs, it’s a story of caring, and we should care for our sisters. So, 100 Women Who Care, think about what you are doing in this community. From that perspective I say to you “thank you”. You have no idea the difference your group is making to all of the charities in this community. You have no idea how many women that $100 cheque you wrote helps in this community. On behalf of my Board of Directors, on behalf of all the women who walk through our doors, or who may walk through our doors, or those who never have to walk through our doors, but are grateful to know it is there for anyone, I say “thank you”. Thank you for what you’ve done, thank you for the support you have given to my organization. I wish I had thought of this 100 Who Care idea. It’s brilliant, and congratulations. I really, deeply appreciate what you’ve done for us. Thank you.