I’ve been at the Women’s Centre for a little over a month as the new Basic Needs Coordinator and I’ve had a wonderful time learning about all the programs and services the Centre offers while also getting to know the staff, volunteers, and women who visit. Learning everyone’s name and going through all the training for every program seemed a little overwhelming at first, but the women here have been friendly, welcoming, and patient!
One of the main parts of my job is to supervise Direct Assistance, which is under the umbrella of the Basic Needs Program. Direct Assistance consists of access to items like shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, emergency food hampers, and referrals. Women can receive two personal care items, 12 diapers, 12 pads or tampons and one emergency food hamper every month as supplies are available. Emergency food hampers are packed to contain 48 hours’ worth of food, or just enough to cover the time it takes for an Interfaith Foodbank Hamper to become available. Volunteers are responsible for facilitating referrals to many other agencies, and for knowing about resources in the city so that any woman who comes to the Centre can get the information and support she needs.
Just to give you an idea of the volume that Direct Assistance sees, 1314 personal care items and 724 emergency food hampers were distributed from April to June this year. Looking at the past few years, the growth is staggering. The number of times women accessed Direct Assistance grew to 5416, or up 52% in the last two years.
While we try to keep items in stock as much as possible to offer the most choice, we are currently low on shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and body wash. Donations of these items or any other personal care items would be greatly appreciated.
I look forward to keeping the momentum going in Basic Needs with your support and I hope you stop by to say ‘Hi’ sometime… but I might need a reminder of your name!
– Thunder Shanti van Egteren