On December 6, I attended the vigil to remember the 14 women killed in the Montreal Massacre and all women in Canada who have been victims of violence. I remember that day in 1989 and hearing the dreadful news. As part of the university and community dedications, I dedicated My Life, My Choice, a sexual exploitation prevention program currently ongoing at Naomi Centre, to the memory of those women. It’s a program that we have been able to offer in the past thanks to the generosity of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and currently through the support of the Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women.
Naomi Centre is a vital facility in our province. It is the only emergency shelter for young women in the province. For the last fiscal year, there were 142 admissions of women between the ages of 16-30. The facility operates under a harm reduction model.
This time of year, in particular, Naomi Centre looks so warm and welcoming. Last year, Home Depot donated Christmas decorations and they’ve been put up again this year. It gives the place a real welcoming atmosphere.
Naomi Centre is more than just about the women who are currently living there. Every month, there are between 300-350 contacts with people who formerly stayed at the Centre. They might phone, drop by, ask for information, assistance, or various supplies, etc. And every week, there’s a supper for former residents who are welcome to come by for a meal. Twenty-five former residents attended the Christmas supper this year.
As soon as women are admitted to Naomi Centre, our staff begin to work with them to find more permanent housing.
Several months ago, we opened two apartments in the basement of Naomi Centre. These accessible and highly functional apartments were built by our Property and Development staff and participants in the Trades Helper program. They are for women who are wanting to transition out of the shelter but could use a little more support than immediately going out into the community.
We are so pleased during this giving season that so many people and organizations provide gifts and support to Naomi Centre. It allows us to provide a bit of Christmas to both current and former residents. Spreading a bit of joy and helping our participants is what gives the wonderful staff at Naomi Centre and all of us at Stella’s Circle such tremendous satisfaction. – Lisa Browne, CEO