Featured 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): firstname.lastname@example.org
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)
Supporting well-being: body, mind and spirit
Maybe you have heard of the winter blues? The shorter days, extreme cold temperatures and factors like challenging road conditions and transportation concerns can amplify feelings of isolation and higher stress levels that can occur during long, prairie winters. For the past two years the impact of the coronavirus has contributed additional stresses.
The good news is that small changes can really tip the balance toward a happier and healthier winter! Suggestions include taking a walk outdoors daily to both support healthy immune, physical strength and endurance, as well as mental health. Just 10-15 minutes can make a difference!
Hydration is also important – winter air can be dry, and with many of us wearing COVID masks, it takes a bit of extra effort and awareness to remain well-hydrated. One guideline suggests one glass of water for every 10 kg of body weight, so a person weighing 70 kg should aim for 7 glasses of water a day. Not a water drinker? Start slowly, and boost hydration with herbal tea or soups.
Social needs can suffer during the winter. Setting up check-ins with friends or family that live alone; for those working from home, or confined to home by weather or illness, can be transformative for both parties. Volunteering once or twice a month, including random acts of kindness, also help with social needs, as well as another fantastic benefit – did you know that when you help others, it triggers a biochemical reaction to support a healthier immune system?
Preparing meals in advance, and freezing portions for later use can also support wellness, providing a break on days when you feel too tired to cook. Preparing extra soup to share with a friend or neighbour, running an errand, or offering a ride on a cold day, are examples of small gestures that offer a welcome boost to both the giver and the receiver of the kindness. Where health precautions allow, connecting with a family member or neighbour to share bulk purchases and meal preparation can also build positive supports, and lessen the burden of meal preparation and food costs.
Another wellbeing tip to beat the winter blues is trying a new hobby or activity – many options are available online and with low or no cost. Having something to look forward to is a wonderful thing, and depending on the format, hobbies can also support social needs.
Acceptance is possibly the most important aspect to managing wellness – what are some things you can only enjoy in winter? Appreciating where you are at can support shifting the focus to things you have and can do, versus what you may lack. Listing what you are grateful for each day, and posting it where you will see it throughout the day is a helpful way to see potential in each day, regardless of the weather or season.
Here are some links to support your winter wellness goals:
https://www.winnipegtrails.ca/trails-maps/ GET OUTDOORS
19/https://financialgym.com/blog/2020/2/8/how-to-meal-prep-on-a-budget MEAL PREP ON A BUDGET
https://www.crayola.com/crafts/ GET CRAFTY
Sustaining vital programs; responding to needs
Increasingly, Willow Place relies upon donations, fundraising and grant funds to sustain 24-hour family violence prevention programs and supports. Willow Place continues to see higher demand for our services, along with increased operational costs, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are also seeing individuals seeking support with more acute and complex needs. Willow Place must continually re-assess and adapt service delivery to meet changing needs. As such, we are especially thankful for the following organizations who have provided granted funds:
Women’s Shelters Canada, COVID recovery grant
Second Harvest Canada, food security grant
Healthy Together Now, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority – healthy living grant
Hockey Helps the Homeless, housing support grant
Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, granted funds from agent fundraising
Winnipeg Foundation, family fund grants for general operations
Abundance Canada, gifting funds for general operations
We envision a future where healthy relationships flourish – thank you for sharing in this vision!
CAREER FEATURE- SHELTER SUPPORT
Making a difference daily
The shelter support worker role is fundamental to Willow Place’s family violence shelter program. Shelter support workers are versatile and highly skilled individuals who provide a wide range of valuable supports to women and children in the shelter program. Support workers may manage 24-hour reception desk duties, while assisting with new participant intake and orientation to the shelter, and meeting daily needs of diverse participants in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. To allow mothers time to meet with counsellors, take a shower or make phone calls, shelter support may assist with child-minding. Coordination of meal-times, snacks and preparation and cleaning of rooms and common areas, as also areas where shelter support plays a vital role. Twice weekly, support workers will facilitate house meetings with shelter residents, to share guidelines and information with participants, and to hear and bring forward participant concerns. Shelter support workers also support receiving and organizing of donations. Maintaining safe and comfortable spaces is only possible with the contributions of shelter support staff – throughout COVID there have been additional tasks required, including more frequent general sanitizing as well as deep-cleaning routines.
Here is what Shelter Support Worker, Analita, had to say:
Q: What is your favourite aspect of the shelter support role?
A: Getting to work directly with the women and children who are in shelter and supporting participants in activities such as games, crafts and groups
Q: What is one thing you have learned?
A: Learning to communicate positively with women from different cultural backgrounds and supporting individuals who are involved in abusive relationships
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a shelter support worker?
A: This line of work can be stressful, lean on your coworkers and support them in the same way – always make sure to find time for laughter!
FOR WILLOW PLACE CAREERS OPPORTUNTIES: https://willowplaceshelter.ca/careers/
Serving diverse needs in community
Outreach is an important service provided by Willow Place, both on our own and with partner organizations. Outreach is needed for a number of reasons – for example, for earlier intervention when individuals are facing relationship difficulties. The outreach program allows Willow Place to support a broader variety of needs, including supports for women, men, and also couples. Participants in outreach programming can access trauma-informed counselling and referral to other beneficial supports.
Willow Place counsellor, Sherri, provides outreach services by phone and also on-site with community partners and offered the following insights:
Q: What are some things you have learned or observed in the outreach program?
A: I was reminded today of how abuse does not discriminate. No matter the gender, race, educational level or socio-economic status, abuse can affect anyone
Q: Can you share a success story?
A: I have been blessed to walk alongside an individual that has connected back to their roots and traditional ways after fleeing an abusive relationship. What an honour to bear witness to someone moving from crisis toward thriving
Q: What is a something that inspires you in your work?
A: “The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself.” ~ Aristotle.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
Donate, share and connect
There are many ways to support Willow Place – all support, large and small is appreciated and makes a difference for participants of our family violence shelter and outreach programs! Willow Place relies upon both in-kind and monetary support to fund our services and to provide a wide array of essentials for our participants. We keep a wish list on our web site for those wishing to donate in-kind items. Due to limited space and staffing resources, we cannot accept all in-kind donations, but will happily refer donors to community partners who may be in need of certain items.
Another great way to support Willow Place is by sharing our information! Willow Place provides information on programs and services, family violence statistics, donation needs, community partnerships, healthy relationships and wellness on our web site and social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. When you follow Willow Place and share our posts, you let others know about resources available in our region.
In recent months, Willow Place has been inspired by the kindness, generosity and creativity of caring community members! Domino’s Pizza and Supper Central have shared meals for shelter participants; EMK Clothing has donated proceeds of sales via their Kindness campaign; and many local crafters have shared quilts, afghans, mittens, scarves. Recently, the Alt Hotel, Winnipeg has donated gently used bedding and towels, and I.C.E Recreational Marketing donated 30 boxes of children’s COVID masks! Winnipeg Soup Sisters continue to bring family packs of frozen soup to feed our shelter participants, along with wonderful wish list items collected from community. Calendar Club stores have provided several large bags of new charity teddy bears for the shelter, and SuperStore locations in Winnipeg continue to support us with occasional donations of Joe Fresh clothing and other items. Chatters Salons have made several general donations of hair care products in the last year, and Richlu Manufacturing, Tough Duck staff and management have supported Willow Place year-round, including during the holiday season, and in the summer months with “Christmas in July” initiatives to fulfill wish list needs of our shelter program – truly amazing!
The coronavirus pandemic has radically changed so many things and has presented many challenges, including widespread economic impacts. One bright spot, however, has been increased awareness of the need for family violence prevention services, and improved online giving support. Willow Place also maintains an Amazon Wish List to make purchasing decisions easier for donors, and uses Canada Helps for safe and convenient monetary donations.
Here are some helpful links to support Willow Place!
WILLOW PLACE WISH LIST https://willowplaceshelter.ca/wish-list/
AMAZON WISH LIST https://www.amazon.ca/hz/wishlist/ls/3KAE8O4STE7GS?ref_=wl_share
CANADA HELPS https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/27770