As the song says, it’s another year over. A great opportunity to reflect back on some highlights from 2016. And there are many! Here’s a taste:
Surrounded by Great People
Such amazing people work and volunteer at Stella’s Circle. They are people who truly believe in the mission and vision of the organization and are committed to social justice. We take our inspiration from the participants we work with and everyday, we see examples of their resilience and determination. Our funders and donors are a big part of the Stella’s Circle family. From our provincial and federal government funders to corporations such as Chevron Canada and the Bank of Montreal to groups such as the United Way of NL, The United Church of Canada, to the Shoebox project to the Basketeers, we are stronger because of such support.
We’re Award Winning!
It was such an honour this year for Stella’s Circle to accept the Canada Volunteers Award-Social Innovation (Atlantic Region) and Torch Award for Ethics (Atlantic Region-Better Business Bureau). Receiving regional and national recognition really shows that our work is highly valued. The Canada Volunteers Award focused on the innovativeness of the organization, particularly as it relates to social impact. The Torch Award celebrated our commitment to a high standard of values and ethics, as well as some of our most recent work around employee wellness.
Increased Housing Opportunities
In August, we held a grand opening of two new studio apartments, bringing our total portfolio to 78 units throughout the city. These two new units are specifically for young women who have stayed at our Naomi Centre emergency shelter. These young women are ready for more independent living but still require some support. In addition to celebrating the fact that we have these two new housing additions, we were delighted that our own Property and Development staff and participants built the apartments, including the beautiful cabinetry!
Building on our successful Giving Tuesday 2015 event of Lighting up Hope at Rawlins Cross, this year we included all our facilities: Emmanuel House, the Brian Martin Housing Resource Centre, Just Us Women’s Centre, Cabot Street (home of Employment Services and Community Support Program) and Naomi Centre. This was a lovely symbol that Hope Lives Here and a reminder about the many programs that we offer to our 1000 participants each year.
Much of the work we do at Stella’s Circle is around stigma reduction. The people we help face many barriers from fully participating in their community. These barriers include things such as mental health issues, addictions, homelessness, poverty, low literacy, criminal justice involvement and long periods of unemployment. Events such as the Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women raise awareness of women’s mental health and helps to combat stigma and raise the profile of such issues.
Similarly, our Inclusion Choir also helps to combat stigma. The Inclusion Choir was thrilled to perform at the Tom Jackson Huron Carole. We received such positive reviews about the choir’s appearance and singing!
Have you seen the touching video that was developed and produced by participants taking part in a Women’s Leadership Skills Group, funded by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation? The video very personally provides insight into some of the impact that stigma can have. It’s a great example of some of the extra programs that can be offered thanks to donations.
Having a CanDo Approach and Making a Clean Start!
In June, Chevron Canada announced a $450,000 donation over three years to Stella’s Circle–an amazing gift that is having an incredible impact! The money is supporting our CanDo program, a transitionary employment program. It has served as an incubator for us and has spawned Clean Start, a commercial cleaning business. Demand has been very high for this service! Participants are getting excellent work experience and customers are very pleased with our work!
In January, End Homelessness St. John’s launched a new Intensive Case Management Initiative. Front Step provides housing and supports to individuals experiencing the longest and most frequent episodes of homelessness. The program is jointly led by Choices For Youth and Stella’s Circle. And what great work is being done! From January to the end of November 2016, there are now 48 active individuals in the program and 40 of these individuals are currently housed.
Collaboration and diversity of knowledge can lead to new solutions to social issues. During this past year, we joined many community partners on things such as the Downtown Health Care Collaborative, the Segregation Review Committee and the Supportive Housing Providers Network. Working together makes our efforts more effective and our community a better place to live.
We are looking forward to continuing our work in 2017 and making a difference in the lives of our participants and in our community. – Lisa Browne, CEO