Willow Place Winter 2023 E-Newsletter
Resilience and Resourcefulness
Willow Place has been fortunate to receive regular donations of delicious fresh-made soup from Soup Sisters for several years. Prior to the COVID pandemic, Soup Sisters held monthly soup-making events in Winnipeg, in partnership with the Fairmont Winnipeg, that helped to raise awareness and donations, while providing a variety of wholesome soups for the shelter program.
During the early months of the pandemic, these in-person events were suspended due to health precautions, and Soup Sisters Canada stepped in to keep the soup flowing. Although monthly events have not resumed in Winnipeg, Soup Sisters Canada has created a wonderful 50% Program which continues to help Willow Place. For a modest cost, our shelter program receives monthly shipments of soup that is freshly made at commercial kitchens and frozen in family packs for shipping and distribution. The soup is delivered to Willow Place’s shelter program by our amazing local Soup Sisters: Harriet, Sandi, Miriam, along with their family and friends.
Willow Place is so grateful for the resilience and resourcefulness exhibited by local and national Soup Sisters members.
Thank you to all of the donors, supporters and volunteers in Canada that make the Soup Sisters 50% Program possible!
HOCKEY HELPS THE HOMELESS
2022 Tournament Outcomes
The annual Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) fundraising tournament was held in December, 2022. Willow Place is fortunate to be among homelessness-serving organizations supported by the event – other beneficiaries include Winnipeg’s Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY) and Red Road Lodge.
The event was a great success and boasted four women’s teams this year! Women led the way with fundraising initiatives and collecting team fees, and we hope there will be more growth with female player participation in the years ahead! Family violence is a significant factor impacting homelessness and homelessness risk, and this event not only raises much-needed funds, it also provides opportunities to talk about family violence and community supports for those in need. Willow Place and other beneficiaries will each receive $45,000 from the 2022 event proceeds. Thank you to Willow Place staff, volunteers, donors and supporters, as well as the Hockey Helps the Homeless local committee and national office – your efforts are making a positive difference for family violence program participants.
CARING DADS PROGRAM
Willow Place’s Caring Dads Program began five years ago, as a grant-funded pilot. Working in partnership with Winnipeg Child and Family Services (CFS), the program has blossomed from one intake yearly to three intakes. For those unfamiliar with Caring Dads, it is an internationally-recognized 17-week intervention program for male perpetrators of family violence. It is understood that without gaining awareness of the impact of their actions, as well as having support to change behaviours and gain accountability, perpetrators of violence are likely to continue familiar, unhealthy relationship patterns.
Most recently, Winnipeg CFS has expressed commitment to training more Caring Dads staff, allowing for more intakes. Also being launched is a new program for survivors of family violence with pre-school age children called Mothers in Mind. Central to the Caring Dads Program’s success, is Willow Place staff member, Shannon C., who has brought invaluable trauma-informed counselling insight and experience to her Caring Dads facilitator role, and who has mentored new program facilitators. Shannon shared:
‘We recently completed our eighth group of Caring Dads, impacting roughly 90 men, and over 200 kids’ lives. On … the last week, we ask the men to complete an anonymous evaluation on their experience in the program, I am proud to share that this was one of the recent comments: “Facilitators were fantastic, kind, caring, empathetic and informative. A great experience in an otherwise terrible time in my life.” We have had men drop out of group due to addictions, and join again when they are in a better place and succeed. Caring Dads is an important part of building healthy relationships. Connecting with these men is an honor and I enjoy being a part of their journey, I too learn and grow in each group.’
Thank you, Shannon, for your dedication and support for sustaining and growing Caring Dads in Manitoba!
P: 204-615-0313, ext. 224
Working Together to Meet Diverse Needs
Willow Place is grateful to have an number of community and program partners, enabling us to better-support participants in the shelter program, as well as provide outreach services for diverse needs. In shelter, as part of the wellness program initiative, grant and donation funds support trauma-informed yoga twice weekly. Wellness supports also include bi-weekly visits from public health, providing information sessions, vaccination access and other valuable health supports. On alternate weeks, a physician from Women’s Health Clinic is on-site to support shelter participants.
Indigenous cultural supports are important, as the majority of Willow Place shelter program participants are Indigenous women and children. Funded by donations and grants, these supports include weekly elder visits, and cultural activities such as drumming, art and crafts sessions. Shelter participants can also access and use Indigenous medicines such as cedar and sage.
Other community partners are invited to visit the shelter program on a regular, on-going basis to provide a wide array of information sessions and supports: SEED (financial literacy), Elmwood Family Resource Centre (newcomer supports and activities), CLEA (legal support), Project Choices/Klinic (alcohol, sex and birth control), for example.
In community, Willow Place outreach counsellors visit Salvation Army SonRise Village, Winnipeg, to provide drop-in and by-appointment family violence supports for men and women. Community outreach also partners with Access Public Health, Main Street, Winnipeg to provide drop-in or by-appointment family violence supports.
AMAZON WISH LIST
In-Kind Donations Support
During the early months of the COVID pandemic Willow Place established its Amazon Wish List, to enable those wishing to provide in-kind donations another option. Over the past months, we have been fortunate to receive a number of donations from community using the list.
TO USE THE LIST:
1) Click on the link to see items on the list. CLICK HERE!
2) Order on your Amazon account for delivery to your home.
3) Contact Willow Place at 204-615-0311 (ext. 231 or ext. 237) to arrange your drop-off appointment.
Most recently, Forester’s Financial member, Kim M. purchased a supply of items from the list including night lights for the shelter program! Foresters provides small grants for members to support a charity or charities of choice, and we were delighted to once again be a beneficiary of this wonderful initiative. Heartfelt appreciation to Forester’s and Forester’s member-supporter, Kim!
Easy, Secure Giving with Canada Helps
Easy, Secure Giving with Canada Helps
Canada Helps is a secure, online platform that enables donors to provide monetary donations for charities. Were you aware that monthly donation subscriptions are available through Canada Helps? Willow Place will be promoting the online giving program in 2023 with a goal to obtain 1000 new $20-a-month subscribers, or 500 new $40-a-month subscribers. Reaching this goal would provide Willow Place with $20,000 monthly to sustain our important work in family violence prevention.
DONATE or SUBSCRIBE: CLICK HERE!
Those with questions are welcome to contact Community Coordinator, Pam Hadder
Phone: 204-615-0313, ext. 237 (weekdays, daytime hours)
Our mailing address: P.O. Box 1786, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3C 2Z9
Willow Place Holiday Edition 2022 E-Newsletter
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!
Best wishes from all of us at Willow Place – we hope you enjoy the holiday season in good health and spirits. Thank you for being a part of our community.
Opportunities for Willow Place leadership
In November, Willow Place leadership team members attended the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Toronto. Attendees remarked that the conference was well-attended with some venues having “standing room only.”
Facility and Support Supervisor, Kathy, shared that her biggest takeaway was how frameworks others were trying to establish (e.g., bringing outside resources and expertise to shelters, medical support on site, community partnerships, healthy living programs, etc.) have already been started at Willow Place. Kathy also shared, “One thing that really surprised me – some remote programs serving youth in Yukon, they are not dealing with some of the street drugs and chemical addictions that we do in Winnipeg – the Yukon group was experiencing more alcohol abuse, complicated by isolation and limited community resources.”
Clinical Supervisor, Erin, mirrored many of Kathy’s impressions from her experience at the conference, and said that attending the conference “affirmed many of the best practices for providing low-barrier and harm reduction approaches are in place at Willow Place.” Erin also remarked that there were a good variety of speakers and break-out sessions to choose from, as well as tours of homelessness-serving organizations, that provided valuable insight and perspective. Erin also stated that the conference reinforced the importance of building broader community networks to better support complex needs.
MORE INFO: https://caeh.ca/2022-national-conference-on-ending-homelessness-begins-in-toronto-today/
Welcome new volunteers
Willow Place has been happy to welcome a number of new volunteers since September. Welcome to shelter support volunteers Pam, Francine, Rebecca, Sara; as well as donation support volunteer, Tracy. Tracy has been supporting Willow Place in the community throughout the COVID pandemic and we were happy to welcome her to our new training program! We look forward to our next training session in February. A special thank you to returning volunteers, Tannis and Pat – we appreciate you!
Currently our volunteer program has a waiting list – for information and to add your name to the waiting list contact Shannon:
P: 204-615-0313, ext. 224
PARTNERSHIPS and DONATIONS
Your gifts make a difference
Willow Place is grateful for the many community relationships and partnerships we enjoy in the community, along with the generous support of donors large and small! As we approach the New Year, we reflect upon the partnerships and donations that have sustained our work, allowed for better participant outcomes, and providing many daily essentials for shelter program participants. Without inter-agency collaboration and donations from caring community it would be difficult to provide services and material needs for the populations seeking our supports – thank you to our community partners and for our many compassionate donors for continuing to think of Willow Place.
Monetary donations info: CLICK HERE!!!
View our wish list: CLICK HERE!!!
Amazon wish list: CLICK HERE!!!
Note: when using Amazon wish list, have items delivered to your home address. When your order arrives, email firstname.lastname@example.org when you have purchased items, and she will contact you to arrange your donation drop-off with us.
Strategies for improved well-being
The winter season brings challenges for many – frigid weather paired with icy walking and driving conditions often lead to more time spent indoors. Creating a personal strategy for winter wellness can help to alleviate the “winter blahs” and maintain good mental and physical health.
Taking time each day for personal needs (self-care) is important. Self-care needs vary, but a good guideline is to consider activity, nutrition, hydration, restorative rest, and social needs as basic building blocks for winter wellness. Initially, it may be helpful to schedule time slots for wellness breaks, until a routine is established. This can also help to ensure that wellness needs do not take a back seat to life’s competing demands.
For those who cannot spend time outdoors, consider online options for activities. There are many free options online e.g., yoga or tai chi (see links, below). A healthy goal is 150-180 minutes of aerobic activity each week, which is approximately 20-30 minutes daily. Most importantly, find something enjoyable and keep moving each day. Other easy ways to add activity: put on music and dance; walk in place/stationary cycle/use treadmill while watching TV; and park further from destinations to add extra steps to the day.
Breathing exercise is also highly beneficial, helping to strengthen lungs while reducing stress. 4-7-8 breathing is easy to incorporate throughout the day. Sit comfortably with eyes closed or lowered; and inhale deeply for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, and exhale 8 counts. Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
YOGA LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AYKMP6rOE
TAI CHI LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcpelNJTDbY
WILLOW PLACE NEWS – October 2022
Willow Place Executive Director, Marcie Wood
Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand hardship. It is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands. As I reflect on the past year, “resilience” is what comes to mind. Once again, Willow Place was faced with unprecedented challenges in the wake of the pandemic and the “shadow pandemic” (UN Women) that emerged. As we continued to navigate and adapt service delivery to maintain safe 24/7 residential and outreach programming, we were also challenged with an increased demand for our services. This demand as well as the complexities of delivering 24/7 programming resulted in further obstacles for the organization to overcome, however, these obstacles provided opportunity for the evolution of “Strength and growth that come only through continuous effort and struggle.” This courage and resilience is what truly defines our Willow Place team.
The impact of the pandemic was felt deeply by all, professionally and personally. Together, we experienced restrictions related to COVID-19 while we still persevered each day to end gender-based violence (GBV). Personal and organizational resilience is intertwined. What we practice daily, how we feel and act allows us to be motivated by certain thoughts, strategies and relationships while limiting others. While the pandemic has highlighted the increased need for partnership and collaborative capacity building, hiring, staff training, and service delivery that centers culturally inclusive, trauma-informed, survivor- and human-rights based perspectives, it also challenged us daily to remain committed to action based on respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth. To achieve balance as well as maintain growth in an environment where all of these needs intersect requires an exceptional commitment from a resilient team.
The work we do is difficult and not one organization cannot do it alone. The spirit of partnership and collaboration is foundational to support coordinated services. Willow Place is grateful to be a member of a community network of corporate sponsors as well as agencies and funders who are committed to the perpetual enhancement of services available for these we serve.
As we leave one year behind and move onto the next I would like to, once again, honour the dedication, commitment, resiliency and growth of our organization. “The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived” (Robert Jordan, the Fires of Heaven).
SUMMER DAY CAMP
Another successful program wraps up
Willow Place was fortunate to receive grant funding from Canada Summer Jobs again this year, helping to fund summer day camp staffing. This year, we were fortunate to hire two University of Manitoba social work students, Norien and Patricia.
Patricia shared the following highlights of her work experience with Willow Place:
“Working closely with children, it’s inevitable that one will form bonds with them. I remember one morning just when I arrived, one of the kids ran up to me with excitement and said “Hey friend, I went to the classroom and it was locked; now that you are here can you go open it” … to me that statement was heartwarming as well as felt special. Other highlights were personal skills enhancement, knowledge acquisition and abilities realization through supporting children’s creative and recreational skills. Patience and consistency yields great results when working with children. Overall, the summer day camp was rewarding and fun!”
Norien shared the following personal reflection:
“The most interesting experience I’ve had while working as a day camp worker is seeing how the unique personality of every child always shined through in a matter of a few minutes. The children have taught me how listening goes a long way when it comes to establishing respect and trust in a relationship. Patricia who taught me the importance of communicating and planning, which resulted in the creation of an environment in our day camp that was welcoming, respectful, and fun. Patricia and I hope that the short time we spent with the children at day camp will be something they can remember when they grow older. Whether it be about the friends they’ve made, the outings we went on, or any feelings they were able to express and let out due to their comfort in our room and the people that they were interacting with. I hope that every child that we have had the pleasure of working with this summer had a positive and memorable experience that they can utilize to become the most amazing versions of themselves.” Special thanks to community donors who provided passes for individual and group admissions this summer: Manitoba Children’s Museum, Goldeyes Baseball Club, Manitoba Museum, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. For the majority of our shelter participants, these donations allowed for first-time experiences – we valued and appreciated your generosity!
Updated training program launch
After a two-year hiatus, Willow Place is thrilled to have volunteers on-site once again. We have maintained a waiting list of prospective volunteers during this time, and in September and November 2022 volunteer training is commencing, with those on the waiting list.
Our volunteer training program has been updated and streamlined to include virtual and in-person components. We have also expanded volunteer opportunities to include shelter support, donations support, maintenance assistance, special event volunteering, and cultural supports. We look forward to welcoming new volunteers to a variety of roles in the weeks and months ahead. All volunteers are interviewed and must obtain criminal records back-checks with vulnerable sector search. For those accepted into our training program, Willow Place is able to provide no-cost adult and child abuse registry applications.
For more info, Willow Place Community Team (Shannon): email@example.com
Phone: 204-615-0313, ext. 224 (weekdays, daytime hours)
Caring community makes a world of difference!
Each year Willow Place must fundraise to meet operational funding gaps, and to effectively respond to changing community needs. Current priorities for Willow Place include food security funding, cultural and wellness support funding, as well as replacement funding (shelter facility supplies and furnishings). On the horizon is a capital campaign to support a new facility with expanded service and support capabilities – demand for family violence prevention services continues to grow, and the needs include transitional housing.
A growing area of support for Willow Place is third party fundraising. Throughout the pandemic, the creativity of community members and organizations was inspiring, as they hosted a wide variety of events to raise both awareness and much-needed dollars for Willow Place. Both service needs and costs continue to increase, and we are witnessing more acute needs among program participants. As such, the support of caring community is particularly precious, and allows us to sustain valuable services for vulnerable populations.
If you are interested in hosting a fundraising event or donation drive, please reach out to us for information:
Phone: 204-615-0313, ext. 237 (weekdays, daytime hours)
How YOU can help
Every connection matters
There is an added layer of comfort when a friend, co-worker, or other supportive person recommends a service. For Willow Place, community and agency sharing and partnership is important. Many of the populations we serve have mistrust of others due to experiences of abuse, neglect and racism.
Commonly, family violence survivors will downplay their hardships and the abuse. Like the tip of an iceberg, what is disclosed or witnessed is typically a snap shot or small part of their full experience. It is important to not underestimate the value of listening without judgment, and the positive impact of a kind word of encouragement.
One reason that many victims of family violence and abuse do not seek help, is that they are not aware of no-cost supports available to them. If someone discloses family violence or abuse, it can feel uncomfortable for those receiving the information, and although they are sympathetic and concerned, supportive friends and family may be unsure what to say or do. If someone discloses family violence or abuse:
- LISTEN and BELIEVE the person
- Express CONCERN for their wellbeing
- Let them know about supportive RESOURCES
- DO NOT JUDGE them
Willow Place provides inclusive no-cost supports for diverse family violence prevention needs in Manitoba – 24-hours, every day. Any person, any gender can call the crisis support line for information and to access supports such as emergency shelter and counselling:
1-877-977-0007 (this 24-hour line directs callers to the closest family violence resource in Manitoba)
204-615-0311 (Winnipeg local – call 24-hours for Willow Place supports and information)
204-792-5302 (text-only line, for information and support in Manitoba)
WILLOW PLACE NEWS – May 2022
Moving Forward with COVID
Safety and support in congregate living setting
Navigating changing health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges. For Willow Place’s family violence shelter program, keeping staff and participants safe and informed has been an ongoing focus. Physical and emotional safety are fundamental to building trust – both within our team, and extending to our supportive relationships with program participants, and also community supporters and partners. As restrictions begin to relax in retail, restaurants and other sectors, those of us operating supportive programs and services in congregate living settings have had to preserve more stringent standards such as regular hand-washing, mask-wearing in communal areas, and more frequent sanitizing of all surfaces. Although winter 2022’s omicron variant has proved to be less lethal, there is already discussion that a sixth wave of coronavirus is on the horizon – there certainly is a sense that we cannot put away the tools we created to sustain services during COVID quite yet, and that we will continue to learn, grow and evolve, factoring in changing health regulations as we move forward.
Currently we prioritize service access by vulnerable populations as follows:
- Those entering family violence shelter are NOT required to be vaccinated
- Shelter participants who test positive for COVID can self-isolate on site
- Rapid on-site testing is available
- Bi-weekly doctor appointments, in-person, on-site are available
- Transportation to medical appointments provided
Above all, adaptability, pro-active focus and effective communication among have been central to preserving Willow Place’s family violence prevention supports; including shelter, crisis line and outreach. We are grateful for our hard-working, compassionate and dedicated team members, supporters and community partners who continue to demonstrate these important principles and help sustain 24-hour services.
Donor Profile – Brenlee E.
Handmade creations for shelter program
In the past months, Willow Place has been fortunate to receive beautiful handmade items and other necessities from Winnipeg donor, Brenlee E. There is something very special about things made by hand, and Brenlee’s lovely diamond painted keychains, book marks and journals have delighted many of shelter program participants! Here is what Brenlee had to say in a recent conversation with us:
Q: Why did you chose to support Willow Place with in-kind donations?
A: “Because I had diamond painting projects that I wanted to share – someone told me about Willow Place and I phoned to ask – I felt it was the perfect place to give it to.”
Q: how did you learn about diamond painting, and what do you love most about it?
A: “I heard about it from a friend of mine. She was selling little pictures, and I bought one. I started looking on Amazon, and I began with a small mermaid picture for my niece. I began buying different kits, (i.e., keychains, bookmarks, journals). I love trying the different projects, it calms me down and helps with my anxiety levels.”
Q: What is one thing you have learned since you started supporting Willow Place in this way?
A: “Just one kind action can put a smile on someone else’s face – it makes it worthwhile to do the diamond painting. I am grateful of how kind and accepting the people are at Willow Place, and how they appreciate the diamond painting projects I donate.”
Q: Do you have a favourite quote, poem, or song that inspires you – why is it so special to you?
A: “Love one another, love others – it’s simple. One smile – and the world is a better place ~ Brenlee E.”
Brenlee also has a favourite song which she enjoys, “because it gives me peace.”
I Can Only Imagine, by Mercy Me
Career Feature -Casual Shelter Staff
Providing vital supports
Casual shelter staff perform vital roles in 24-hour crisis support services, providing extra support so staff can take vacation days, attend training, and also covering sick days. Willow Place has a diverse group of casual support workers and counsellors who provide invaluable service. Some of our casual shelter workers have bridged both counselling and support roles, and are able to support a wide range of participant needs; one of these important team members is Joan N.
Here is what casual counsellor and support worker, Joan, had to say:
Q: What is your favourite aspect of the support/counselling roles?
A: “I would have to say that is helping women and getting to know them. It is wonderful to see them start to relax and feel safe in the shelter, their tears turn to smiles and then to laughter as they start to feel safe.”
Q: What is one thing you have learned?
A: “Each woman coming into shelter has her own unique story to tell…shelter is where a woman can feel safe telling her story and not feel judged. Women in shelter need reminders that they matter, and that they are not responsible for what someone else has done – they can only be responsible for their own actions.”
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a shelter support worker or counsellor?
A: “Do not judge women who come into shelter. They have taken the first step toward ending abuse in their life by deciding to enter shelter. Show them kindness, support and understanding, and above all, show them respect. They need to be reminded of how strong they are and how important they are.”
Q: Do you have a favourite quote or phrase that inspires you?
A: “No person should be judged by their past, they do not live there anymore.”
Women’s Health Clinic Partnership
On-site medical services for shelter participants
For the past four years, Willow Place has been working to bring partnered medical supports for women and children in our family violence shelter program. Just as we were ready to launch the program, coronavirus hit. Now, three years into the coronavirus pandemic, we are happy to share that bi-weekly medical visits from Women’s Health Clinic medical staff are underway.
Willow Place Executive Director, Marcie Wood, shared these insights into the medical partnership:
“The on-site clinic at Willow Place is mutually beneficial as this initiative supports the goals of both organizations – to bring services to where people gather. In this case, the offering of healthcare services on-site allows Willow Place to further enhance the inclusive, holistic services that we offer. For Women’s Health Clinic, this initiative supports the expansion of healthcare services in the community, for the community. Furthermore, this initiative may allow participants to develop a medical connection they did not have previously, or may support the reconnection with former services.”
Some of the services women can access in a safe, non-judgmental space: general health, safe sex information and access to birth control, internal exams/PAP smear, pregnancy and STI rests.
How YOU Can Help!
Follow, share, care
One significant shift during the coronavirus pandemic has been our increased use of technology to provide support, network, and support public education and general awareness goals.
Our web site and social media channels, as well as email communications have been integral to sharing out organizational priorities, donation needs and program information, for example. In the shelter and outreach programs, access to virtual options has made a world of difference, sustaining existing partner relationships, and expanding interactions to benefit the populations we serve in family violence prevention.
Some of the most common reasons victims of family violence and abuse do not seek help are: limited personal supports, lack of awareness of abuse, social stigma and shame, and lack of knowledge about community supports. You can help Willow Place and partners share valuable family violence information, including how to access supports, by:
- Following us on social media and sharing our posts with your networks
- Subscribing to our newsletter, and inviting others to subscribe
- Challenging false information and negative stereotypes when they arise
- Sharing Willow Place contact details for those seeking support or information
Donations continue to be important for sustaining Willow Place services and supports. In-kind donations enable us to provide important essentials for those we serve – thank you for your belief in our work!
TO DONATE: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/27770
VIEW OUR WISH LIST: https://willowplaceshelter.ca/wish-list/