Category Archives: Chosen Charities say Thanks

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.

 

A Thank-You from Rainbow Day Camp

Money can’t buy happiness.

David's Thank you

David Jackson from Rainbow Day Camp delivered this wonderful thank you speech at our fourth quarterly meeting.

Rainbow Day Camp’s Teen camp would like to thank you all for your support and the funds which you have supplied us with in order to help our program prosper and flourish. Rainbow’s Teen camp is a source of community, friendship, and empowerment not only for Guelph residents but for surrounding cities as well. To say thank you on behalf of Rainbow Day Camp, I have been given the job of trying to convey to you what the money you have provided has meant to each camper that it has affected. The simple truth is that it is impossible for you to truly know the degree to which this grant has benefited the countless Teens, and the many ways it helps them every day – it’s simply too difficult to put into words…

But here at Rainbow Day camp we believe everything is possible so I’ll give it my best shot!

Money can’t buy happiness but this dollar made it possible for Rainbow to pay for inclusion staff at Rainbow to support the Teens at camp. This dollar made it possible for Johnny to beat me at the card game “war” 17 times when he was at camp. Seriously 17 times…he counted. This dollar made it possible for Rainbow’s Teen Camp to go on fun filled field trips like the one we went on to the campus radio station CFRU. This dollar made it possible for Davina, a charismatic and warm girl, to work her charm on the head of the radio station and get offered a volunteer position working at the Radio station. This dollar made it possible for Teen camp to secure their very own space for this summer – it’s called the fireplace lounge. Because of this lounge, Jennifer, a kind and creative, but very shy camper, no longer needs to spend her day sitting on the floor in a stairwell because she doesn’t feel like she has her own personal space within the rest of camp. The fireplace lounge is a bigger and more open space for Jennifer to occupy and get closer with her fellow Teens. This dollar made it possible for Joey, a whirl wind sparkplug of a 15 year old, to have the support he needs to make his camp experience enjoyable. For Joe, if he gets through the entire camp day without calling his mom needing to go home, punching another camper, or having a major melt down, he has had a successful day. The charm of Joe is that he can’t get through every day of camp that way. He acts out and has a tendency to show some harsh sides of himself when he is in an overwhelming situation. Rainbow Day Camp does not try to change Joey, because there is not a thing wrong with him! Instead we help Joe achieve more of those successful days. Thanks to your help, it is possible for us to embrace abilities instead of disabilities.

We don’t change people, we enable them and bring out the best side of them possible.
This job is not always smooth sailing but a large part of the reason that this program has been so successful is because the staff has the opportunity to get the training required to be ready for anything that may come their way – your funds have helped provide even more training this year. Rainbow’s Teen camp is not setting out to change people’s lives, but I can say confidently that over the past 3 years it has definitely changed mine. It has opened my eyes and allowed me to view the world through a more accepting, mature, and positive lens.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy opportunity and long lasting memories. Because of the opportunity you have given each and every one of our campers they have risen to the
challenge and created their own happiness. Thank you for allowing these Teens to turn your funding into beautiful memories they will not soon forget.

With our more sincere gratitude,

David Jackson
Teen Camp leader 2015
Rainbow Programmes for Children

A Thank You from Hospice Wellington’s Art Therapy Program

We have asked for and received a copy of Nicole Fantin’s wonderful speech from our January 2015 Meeting. Hospice Wellington was the recipient of our first donation in October 2014. Nicole says: 

Nicole Fantin, Art Therapy Director for Hospice Wellington.

First off, I would like to thank you all for having me here this evening. It’s inspiring being in the presence of so many committed women, dedicated to making this community a more vibrant place to live, to work, to raise and live in family and community- and for myself personally, to support people in health and well-being.

My name is Nicole Fantin, and I am an Art Therapist who works for Hospice Wellington. I’ll also add that I may have cried when I heard that the program I started almost four years ago was going to be the first recipient from this amazing charity movement.

For those of you who don’t know too much about Hospice Wellington, we are a unique not-for-profit facility offering support to Wellington County through life threatening illness and the experiences of death and dying for both palliative residents and families in our community. In addition to a ten-bed residence, we have a full community service floor with a variety of community programming, including Art Therapy that is free of charge to Wellington County’s grief and bereavement population.

I introduced Art Therapy to Hospice Wellington almost four years ago as a student intern upon completing my graduate work in Art Therapy. I chose to volunteer and then work with Hospice Wellington for a number of reasons- grief being under researched and very rarely discussed in our contemporary society- but most of all because I saw a need, similar to the women who have chosen to support this charitable movement, a need to help and support a community that we all live within and believe in.

As I look around this room, I am greeted by familiar faces. Perhaps some of us have not known the loss of a mother, or a father, of a brother or a sister, of a child, or a friend. But we are not as a community unfamiliar to grief. As a community, we have had many losses. It connects us all, whether or not the loss has happened in our own home. We are friends to grief as we have all experienced it, in one way or another.

Grief often robs us of our words. We fall silent, overcome by emotions, not able to find the right words, words at all, to describe the pain, the confusion, the depth of our sorrow. It can leave us feeling alone, scared to acknowledge our pain, as everyone that surrounds us seems to be doing ok. One client aptly described their grief in the following way: “ It’s like my entire world stopped…and the world kept spinning. I have never felt so alone.”

Most people call me an art teacher, or that person that gets everyone dirty, which is probably true- the best description I think I’ve had is a passenger to a difficult life experience. As an Art Therapist, I provide a space that invites grief processing using art and creative materials, finding alternative modes of communication. The art becomes a vehicle for their self-expression, a space to encounter their grief gently, individually or in community. Rather than give you a summary of what art therapy is, I would rather describe it through the following experience of Art Therapy. I invite you to close your eyes. I would like you to bring an image of a cliff side to mind, set against a nature setting, with a full skyline. A solitary figure stands atop the ridge, looking out into the beyond. It is here that the image takes us within the story of a life:

“It’s like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, and I can’t tell if it’s swirling water below or fire. I can’t stay where I am. I know I have to step over the edge.” These words capture the essence of the courage that is required to begin the therapeutic journey.

Sensing the urgency, fear, and the pain this client experienced, I suggested that he look at his painting and say, quietly: “ Yes, I know that feeling. That’s how it is when I begin journeys, too.”

The client seems relieved by my response, and I suggested that he invite me to join him as he stepped over the edge. He asked, “Will you make it less painful?”
I said, “No, but I’ll be there with you.”

This example describes a part of what I do. I passenger people through difficult parts of their lives, helping them journey through experiences that can leave them feeling broken and alone. And this description also illustrates the potentiality of metaphors in the artwork, using it to share and expand on emotion, experience and the individual journey.

And this is what you have supported, as more than a hundred women strong. I wanted to give you a scope of what your money has and will continued to be used for. What you have allowed is for experiences that otherwise may not have happened to happen, when voices and words are difficult to find.

Our core Art Therapy Program at Hospice Wellington is based on 16 hours per week. We rely on grant support and donations to augment our current programming. Thankfully, we receive generous donations of materials each year. The donation that 100 Women Who Care will go predominantly towards hours rather than materials, allowing us to minimize our constant waitlists and continue the growth of this programming to better serve our community.

The donation that 100 Women Who Care has made to this program will allow for us as a community to support those who are in need of grief services in the upcoming year. The funds you have provided will continue to go towards:

Nearly resolving our current waitlist for individual services, We have been able to double the amount of clients we are able to serve in our current individual programming, including legacy work for child loss, parent and spousal loss
The continuance of a group program originally funded by a well-being grant focusing on spirituality and finding community for grieving caregivers in our community
To begin weekend workshops introducing new clients to the use of Art Therapy scheduled to commence at the end of January 2015
To continue an open studio program supported for the continued well-being of community members struggling with life threatening illness and those who are recently bereaved, supported by community artists and volunteers
To reserve a basin of hours to use as needs present in our palliative Residence with clients facing end of life

It is true that your donation will make experiences possible that perhaps otherwise would not have happened. So what have you made possible, on a human level.

  • You have made it possible for a little girl to complete a legacy quilt of memories that she and her mother shared before her mother passed away.
  • You have made it possible for a widow to create in a medium that her husband once created in, a space that allowed for her to encounter his memory in a new, gentle way.
  • You have made it possible for a family to receive support and celebrate the life of a child, in a way that was fitting to her memory, using creativity and community to find healing in the loss.
  • You have indeed help support our community towards health and continued healing and you have provided me with the opportunity to make that possible in ways that we were unable to before.

Your contribution has made these things possible, and will continue to do so in the coming year. Thank you for this contribution. Thank you from all of us at Hospice Wellington for making a difference.