All posts by jillian

Volunteer Spotlight: Alexis

Alexis was first introduced to the YW’s work when her sister completed a practicum placement with us, which better introduced her to the YW’s work and mission. At around the same time, she attended her first Niagara Leadership Summit for Women.

The Leadership Summit was a great experience, and she “was hooked.” After putting out a call to action to donate to the YW at Christmas time, she then became determined to become more involved in the YW’s work. She joined the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women planning committee the following Fall.

“I love the sense of community and support that the YW offers,” says Alexis. “The staff and volunteers are committed to creating a thriving community and it radiates throughout their work, making for an empowering and fulfilling volunteer experience. Volunteering with the YWCA has been an eye-opening experience, the organization is truly a pillar for women and families in the Niagara community!”

Truly Local, Truly Committed

PenFinancial Credit Union chooses to support the community & YWCA Niagara Region

At a recent celebration, PenFi made it official! They launched their “truly local commitment,” a commitment to a values-based banking model. “We believe that people who want to do business with a financial co-operative that reinvests 10% of their pre-tax profits back into their community, will be interested to learn more about PenFinancial Credit Union,” says Ken Janzen, CEO of PenFi. “We are a Living Wage champion, we commit to procuring 100% locally and inject socially responsible ideas into our products and services.”

What does that have to do with the YW?

We wanted to tell you a little bit more about PenFi and their truly local commitment because they have supported the women and families we serve in a number of different ways over the past few months. In October, we were not only the recipients of the proceeds of their Community ATM, but they also came on board as the Lead Sponsor for our Niagara Leadership Summit for Women. It’s an empowering day all about celebrating women and feminism. It was another wonderful event, thanks to PenFi’s support.

The YW was also one of the recipients of PenFi’s “Compassion Wheel.” New members who opened accounts at their new Fourth Avenue branch, were invited to spin the wheel, and the credit union donated $100 on their behalf, to one of 12 partner organizations.

Most recently, PenFi has joined our YW FACES campaign as the Presenting Sponsor. We don’t want to give away too much about this unique project just yet, but we can tell you that it will be launched at In The Soil, on June 7th. We have been working on this awareness campaign with local image maker Michal Pasco for the past year. PenFi’s sponsorship allows us to grow it into something amazing.

Corporate Citizenship comes in many shapes and forms. PenFi is proof that there is room for creativity and fun when supporting local charities. Thank you for your truly local commitment, and thank you for supporting homeless women and families here in Niagara.

Check out their website here: https://www.penfinancial.com/Personal/

Surviving the Storm: Representing the Journey

An exciting new partnership initiative has taken place between Rodman Hall Art Centre and YWCA Niagara Region. Guests of the YWCA Niagara Region were invited to work with artist Leona Skye to create a piece of art that represents their individual journeys. A celebration of the final product took place July 25th, 2018, at the YWCA’s Culp St. Emergency Shelter.

“The painting  was created by an amazing group of women,” says YWCA Skills Development Worker Noella Iradukunda, “They worked together to create a beautiful art piece that promotes the journey that they have been through.”

The piece, titled Surviving the Storm, immediately captures the eye when viewed for the first time. A flurry of colour and shapes, it’s immediately clear to the viewer that a considerable amount of thought and emotion went into the painting. One of the artists describes how they were each given a piece of the canvas to represent the journey that has brought them to where they are today. Words like “Empower”,  “Heal”,  “Freedom” and “Justice” stretch across the canvas, capturing the essence of the women’s emotional journeys and their feelings now that they are at the YWCA.

The guests of the YWCA, along with Elizabeth Chitty, Program Officer of the Rodman Hall Art Centre, and artist Leona Skye, gathered around the painting to sign their names on their work. There was a noticeable sense of pride in the room as the women looked upon what they had created. The artwork can be seen in the front foyer of the Culp St. Shelter.

Experiencing Discomfort: No Fixed Address 2018

The discomfort hit almost as soon as I lay my head down on my fluffy pillow. In a tent, with a small yoga type mattress, I could still feel every single bump in the ground. The roots digging into my bones made me continually adjust myself into a position that seemed tolerable. Tossing and turning most of the night, hearing sounds in the distance, I couldn’t help but think about the homeless people sleeping on a park bench. How exposed they must feel. How uncomfortable, terrified, and lonely they must feel. Shuffling to try to avoid those thoughts, I fell into a rough sleep. Well into the night, the cold crept upon me. Wrapping myself deeper into my warm comforter, putting my hood up, I fell into a light sleep.

The sun came up quickly and early. Groggy, I woke up so sore. Almost every part of me was aching. I struggled to pull myself together and get out of the tent. My goodness, I was exhausted. It felt like I didn’t even sleep. And yet, there are so many people in our community that sleep on park benches, in cars, on floors night after night. They’re waking up feeling awful, going to work, and going back “home” to any of those positions and doing it all over again. Can you imagine?

The thing that kept me up in the morning was knowing that in a couple of hours, I’d take a long hot shower. Id’ be able to brush my teeth and clean my face in my sink without any inconveniences. That evening I’d be able to crawl into my comfortable queen-sized bed in nice sheets and a clean comforter. The night prior’s discomforts would be all but a distant memory unlike the reality it is for so many people. And let me tell you from my experience that a tent is much more spacious than a car and it allows you to be in a better position. So I really had no reason to even have a slight negative thought about it.

One night was uncomfortable. Being sore for the entire day was awful. Every single person that participated in this event was grateful to go back to the comfort of their home. But so many people in our community don’t have that luxury. They don’t have a home or any comfort.

That’s why we take a night out of our lives each year to help the YW help our homeless. Because what’s one night compared to all of the people who do it for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.