Women’s shelters in K-W face funding issue

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$4,600 was raised for women's shelters in K-W
$4,600 was raised for women’s shelters in K-W

Local volunteers in Kitchener-Waterloo have come together to support women in need.

The Waterloo Regional Labour Council raised over $4,600 for local women’s shelters at their first annual International Women’s Day fundraiser brunch, which was launched this

March.

The fundraiser was intended to not only collect donations but was also meant to promote the greater issue at hand — helping out shelters and women who use their services.

“The reason why we wanted to benefit the shelters is that we all feel that we have been pretty lucky and we have great unionized jobs,” said Lois Iles, the co-chair of the council’s women’s committee.

“So we want to bring everyone up to that level and we thought that was a great place to start, to help women who are struggling and need help to get up to the same level that we have been lucky enough to achieve,” she added.

The money was donated to local women’s shelters Haven House, Anselma House and Mary’s Place. It will also be rotated through the nine local women’s shelters so that each year different shelters can benefit.

However, a more important aim of the fundraiser was to address the gross underfunding of women’s shelters, which according to Jennifer Hutton is a growing issue in the community.

Hutton is the outreach manager of Haven House and Anselma house; she sees first-hand the large amount of women who are in need of shelters, community and safe havens.

“Of course we rely on private donors and fundraising, because that’s a huge help and the community has been very supportive,” Hutton said. “It’s just that you reach a point where there is donor fatigue, so that’s always a struggle.”

The need for women’s shelters is only growing.

“We know that in the Region police are getting about 6,000 calls a year [that are] domestic violence-related, so it’s pretty high numbers and we even know from those numbers that a lot of women don’t even call the police, so it’s a big problem,” she said.

Hutton also explained that there is an initiative to start programs that focus on prevention of and education on domestic violence. These programs are a large part of the services provided by shelters, yet with limited funds this is difficult to maintain.

According to IIes, the minimum financial support right now is the reason why the community needs to help.   On the impact for women’s shelters of the money raised, Hutton said,

“It’s huge, it definitely creates a lot of relief because we know that the community is still supporting us and it really is what keeps us sustainable.”

The International Women’s Day fundraiser was brought to the community after organizers noticed the success of a similar fundraising brunch in Mississauga. They saw the opportunity to get involved in the community and help local women in need.

Catherine Fife, the MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, also attended the fundraiser.

She joined Julie White,  Unifor’s women’s department director and Stephen Soucie, a representative from the K-W Sexual Assault Centre, who spoke out about International Women’s Day and the struggles women face.
The committee is already planning for next year’s event in hopes that it will be even more successful.


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