GAWDA Gives Back Exceeds 2003 Goal!

Thank you to all GAWDA members who contributed to this year’s GAWDA Gives Back program to benefit St. James Community Service Society in Vancouver. At the 2003 Convention, GAWDA presented a check in the amount of $44,000 CAN ($34,175 USD), which will cover the entire cost of furnishing two libraries for St. Elizabeth’s Home, an emergency shelter for women and children in crisis. Your donation, one of the largest the program has ever received, will offer the women and children who use the facility an opportunity for learning that they would not otherwise have access to. St. Elizabeth’s Home conveys its deepest gratitude to GAWDA. “We struggle to maintain and respect the dignity of the people we serve,” says Erin McNeill, development officer for St. James Community Service Foundation, “and this donation will allow many people to find their dignity and become whole again.” A complete list of the corporate and individual donors appears attached.

Click here for the thank you letter from St. James Community Service Society.

More About St. Elizabeth Home

St. James Community Service Society Women & Children’s Programs (Excerpted from the funding proposal to GAWDA from St. James Community Service Foundation)

St. Elizabeth Home provides a safe, supportive environment for women and children in crisis. Many are in flight from physical and/or emotional violence at the hands of spouses, partners, or pimps. For others, the crisis is substandard, unsafe housing….Some women will be in recovery from a Detox program and others will be experiencing a mental or physical health crisis.

The children we see live in abject poverty, many have moved a number of times and have attended school sporadically. Some of the children have been in foster care and most, if not all have witnessed violence; some have been abused, emotionally, physically and sexually. They generally arrive at the emergency shelter in the middle of a crisis or they join their mother in our second stage housing facility after having been in foster care.

The shelter provides a safe haven from various forms of violence. Everyone is treated with respect, acceptance and dignity, no matter what their situation.

The emergency shelter has 32 beds. There are also 10 units of second stage, transitional housing which are 2-3 bedroom, fully contained and furnished apartments.

St. Elizabeth Home is located in a family-friendly neighborhood conducive to the everyday lives of moms and their children. Buses are easily accessible, a shopping district is handy, a community center and parks are close by, and it’s a nice area to go walking in.

Another unique feature of St. Elizabeth Home is the extra space that we are able to offer to single women and families who stay in the shelter. We have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of conflict and tension in the house, which has positively impacted individual stays.

We are asking GAWDA Gives Back to donate $30,000 USD to create two much needed library rooms at St. Elizabeth Home. One for Women and another separate room designed specifically for our school-aged children.

A library, located on the second floor, would be targeted for women and moms who would like a space to read, research life skill issues such as parenting, search for housing and job ads on the Internet. We would like to furnish this room with two complete computer stations, bookshelves and books, and furnishings. This room requires additional venting in order to be functional.

A Youth Study, located on the ground floor, would provide school-aged children and youth a quiet place to study or to do homework. We would like to furnish this room with two complete computer stations, books, reference works, games, and furnishings.

2002 Statistics

Women and Children Served

* 27 families with a total of 67 children
* 76% of the children were under age 12, the average mother was 30.
* 130 families were turned away

Return Visits

* 74% of the clients (All clients, singles and families) stayed only once.
* 15% had two stays.
* 5% had three stays.
* 3% had four stays.
* Less than 1% stayed between 5 and 10 times.

Computers with access to the Internet would provide an invaluable tool for women and children to better prepare themselves for the transition between the shelter and the community. If we were able to expand our resources in this way, it is likely that we might see a decrease in our return rate.

Women would be able to complete their housing and job searches in a more efficient manner. It would also be possible for women to print out applications for housing programs, to submit their resumes for work or to register for school. Children and youth that are in school would be able to complete their homework or research their assignments on the Internet or with an encyclopedia program. As some schools are not able to enroll students on a short-term basis, not all children and youth are able to attend school while they reside at St. Elizabeth Home. These children would benefit by being able to use age appropriate educational programs or games.

It is not possible for us to keep all of our resources up to date. The Internet is an excellent source for information and would allow women the freedom to research topics that are pertinent to them; this includes tips for self-care or budgeting, or health related research. In the future, we hope to expand the use of the library to include group work or even a drop in program where support workers address various life skills.

We have already begun to see some of the benefits to providing shelter outside of the downtown Eastside. Since opening in April of 2003, we have had a several single women come through the shelter after having left detox that were able to continue on to a recovery or treatment program because they remained clean and sober. We were also able to accommodate a new mom of a premature baby who felt reassured enough to leave the hospital for St. Elizabeth Home after meeting the staff. She felt comforted by the fact that our staff were able and willing to support her and the baby during such a critical time.

We are excited about our new program and look forward to the opportunity to further develop our services.
(Excerpted from the funding proposal to GAWDA from St. James Community Service Foundation)ouver