The pandemic has impacted everyone, for women experiencing poverty, homelessness, and mental health issues it has made life even more difficult. The need for the Women’s Centre’s safe space where women can get support, connect with other women and build community has never been greater.

This has been the most extraordinary year. Our traditional services were disrupted and at the same time the need for support was tremendous. It feels very good to be able to report that our entire community, staff, volunteers, community members, donors and funders, came together to ensure that we were able to continue to assist and support women and their families.

Since the onset of the pandemic we have heard from so many members of our community, who made donations, made masks, donated hand sanitizer, donated feminine hygiene products and volunteered to make sure isolated women continued to be connected. For all of this support we are truly grateful.

We knew right from the beginning of this crisis that social isolation was going to be exacerbated for women and girls who regularly access the Centre for connection. In response, we revamped our programs and services in order to provide stability and resources to women and girls in our community.

The following words capture how important it has been to provide connection during this time:

“Thank you for all you are doing. You are always amazing. A special thanks for the peer support weekly phone calls. I don’t have adequate words to express what a difference these have been for me especially in April, May and June. Thank you!!!”

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resiliency of women in our community. A third of all women work in “high risk” jobs. Racialized women are over-represented in most caring and related occupations. Women suffered unequal job losses compared to men early on; racialized and low-income women are seeing an unequal recovery. Women took on more unpaid work at home when schools and daycares closed. And women are experiencing more anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

The need for support, assistance and connection has never been greater.

We are launching our Year-End Campaign so we can continue to offer supports and services to women and girls experiencing social isolation.

With support from donors like you we will have the capacity, and resources to maintain our operations, and ensure that our services are accessible to as many women and girls as possible and are responsive to emerging needs, including support with taxes and government benefits, access to food supports, computer access, and support with accessing employment.

We will continue to develop and utilize on-line space in order to reach more women and girls with connection and learning opportunities. Program areas including, Women and Environment, Reconciliation, Women Lead YYC, Artist in Residence Program and Girls programs continue to attract large numbers of women and girls interested in a safe, female-only space, whether that is in-person or on-line, to learn about and take action on these important issues.

In this time of disruption, never has it been more important than now to amplify our work focused on addressing intersectional inequity and to provide opportunities for women to take action.

Women like Jane who participated in reconciliation training and got the tools she needed to begin to be a strong ally to Indigenous peoples, and provided the inspiration and capacity to help facilitate system change within her organization.

It is difficult to predict what 2021 will look like. What I do know is that the Women’s Centre will continue to navigate the best ways to support women and girls in person, in smaller gatherings, by phone, outside, and on-line. Our focus will continue to be on providing a safe space for women in need, and a place where women and girls can connect, grow and work for positive change.

We believe every woman has something to contribute. There are times for all of us when we may need help, and there are also times when we are able to give help.

Today, I ask you to donate to the Women’s Centre. I want you to know that I truly appreciate your support of the Women’s Centre and We simply can’t create a community that both helps and empowers women to thrive without you.

Thank you,
Susan Gillies
Executive Director

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