By Haley Ramphal, Employment & Learning Centre.
Last month, we celebrated International Women’s Day and the YWCA received an incredibly generous donation from Bonnie Gitzel and her family. Upon reading Bonnie’s story, it was clear just how much of an impact the programs and services offered here at the YWCA Saskatoon leave on those who come through our doors. The YWCA’s mission and vision focuses on empowering women, girls, and their families, granting them the ability to receive services that are equitable and accessible. Despite the various circumstances these women and girls face, they can be assured that the staff here will go above and beyond to ensure that they feel safe and welcomed, allowing them to gain a sense of independence, self-worth, and hopefulness.
One of the fundamental reasons these programs have proven to be successful is because of the prioritization of improving the mental health, wellbeing, and self-sufficiency for those accessing services. Whether it be providing counselling, information regarding housing, referrals to other programs/training, (both internal and external), the YWCA Saskatoon strives to assist any and all women within the community who need it. The services that are offered not only provide the essentials in terms of basic human needs, (i.e., housing, food, shelter), but they also ensure residents and clients have the opportunity to address many other factors impacting their daily lives. This includes the accessibility to the Employment & Learning Centre’s computer lab and working with an employment counsellor if need be, providing them the skills and tools to successfully look for employment. As well, residents of the Crisis Shelter have access to Fitness on 25th, as it’s encouraged for these women to begin building a healthier lifestyle through physical activity. Exercise is a wonderful way to release stress and to build self-confidence through hard work, dedication, and results. Other programs tailored to help women and girls within our organization include the Trade Journey Program, Women Shifting Gears, Turning Points and Youth Programs, just to name a few. These programs strive to provide clients with a means of living a safer and healthier life, which in turn positively impacts their overall wellbeing.
Turning Points, the program which received the donation from the Gitzel family last month, is transitional housing that houses 14 women for up to a year. It was developed due to a need for longer-term housing supports for women accessing the shelter, which offers a 30 day stay. This program not only allows the residents to remain in a safe place to call home, they are also granted the opportunity to begin rebuilding their lives and do a complete 180. The services in place for these residents include 24-hour support, counselling, referrals and connections to other resources, access to treatment for mental health and addictions issues, and all other supports to assist in strengthening their independence and life skills. Because of people like Bonnie Gitzel, Turning Points and other programs continue to remain accessible to the public due to the generosity of our funders and community members.
To read Bonnie’s story, please visit the YWCA Saskatoon website.
“Women who have moved on from Turning Points and are now living independently call this a place to recuperate and the way to make sure they stay alive for their families.”