Happy New Year! We hope you are off to a great start in 2013!
We had a peaceful and joyous start to the new year at Nellie’s Shelter thanks to the generosity and love of everyone who supported us over the holidays and throughout the year.
Since 1973 we have been committed to social change to achieve social justice for all women and children. We stand in solidarity with everyone who has made a commitment to end violence against women in our city, our country, and around the world.
We look forward to working with you in 2013.
Women who live in poverty are more likely to experience violence. In fact, at Nellie’s we believe that poverty is a form of violence against women.
Aliza came to Nellie’s 5 years ago with her young daughter. She was homeless and without a penny to her name after her husband left her for the second time. She had been financially dependent on him and without a job or any support from family or friends, she struggled to make ends meet. When Aliza’s husband left he took everything from their apartment so she was left with nothing but the clothes on her back. She came to Nellie’s as so many women often do, empty handed but for the child by her side.
Upon arrival at Nellie’s Aliza disclosed that her ex-husband beat her regularly during the years they were together. She re-told incidents of horrific abuse and violation after he would come home drunk at night. At Nellie’s we made sure that Aliza received the appropriate counseling resources she needed to work through her trauma so she could regain her strength and self-confidence, for herself and her daughter.
While Aliza was with us, we began the process of applying for affordable housing. When women are at our shelter, securing safe and affordable housing is the first step they take towards beginning new lives, free from abuse. While Aliza did not qualify for Special Priority Housing because she did not have documents to prove cohabitation with her ex-husband, we were able to secure temporary housing for her through the Housing Allowance Program which provides tenants with financial assistance with rent for 5 years. Although this relief would be temporary, it addressed Aliza’s immediate needs in the face of no other options.
In March of 2013, Aliza’s 5 year Housing Allowance Program will be complete. This means she will no longer receive any financial assistance to help pay her rent. Although she is working, her limited income cannot cover market rent rates, leaving her and her daughter at great risk for becoming homeless again. Aliza’s future depends on breaking the cycle of poverty in which she is currently trapped. Temporary solutions like the Housing Allowance Program offer short-term relief, but do little to address the larger systemic issue of the lack of affordable housing in our city. Although Aliza no longer has to fear punches and bruises from her husband, she continues to experience violence as result of living in poverty.
Today, we continue to support Aliza. Our Transitional Housing Support Worker is assisting Aliza with navigating the difficult subsidized housing process. We are helping her apply for Rent Geared to Income Housing, connecting her to counseling supports, increasing her involvement in the community, and encouraging her to explore additional government supports. Despite the challenges they have faced and the difficult journey they have been on, Aliza and her daughter are survivors and this story is the story of so many women who come to Nellie’s.
This month We had our first Nurturing Ourselves Workshop at the shelter. This workshop was created with the goal of providing the women at our shelter with a great afternoon filled with pampering and self care. While women are at our shelter, their days are always busy. Between looking after their children, attending appointments, personal errands, and trying to stay calm during a difficult time, the physical and emotional toll can be great. We created the Nurturing Ourselves Workshop to give women a space to relax, unwind, rejuvenate, and practice self-care. This new program will run twice a month.
Our first session was great! Women were very excited to do manicures, pedicures, and makeup and share creative tips on how they like to relax. Despite the rainy, cold day outside, everyone’s spirits were lifted by the smell and taste of freshly baked cookies and hot coffee prepared by the staff. Sharon, a mother of three particularly enjoyed the group as it gave her some time to relax and recharge after taking care of her children all day. She had this to say: “On such a dreary, rainy day the Nellie’s Group made it sunny with manicures and taking care of ourselves.”
Thanks to the generous support of The Body Shop Eaton Centre, we were able to provide every woman with a lovely self-care product at the end of our first workshop. Items included body lotion, body wash, shampoo and conditioner. These items added a special touch to the workshop and will remind the women to take some time out of every day to pamper themselves.
We look forward to our next session of the Nurturing Ourselves Workshop.
Wow! What a day! Despite a wet start, our team members braved the rain at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in support of the women and kids at Nellie’s!
(Team Members Elizabeth and Kiela)
Our team members ran in the 5K and half-marathon races, and although their shoes were soaked and their clothes were wet, each one came across the finish line with a smile. We are so proud of all of you.
(Team Members Louise and Faye)
Our fantastic team has raised $15,822, which is 80% of our $20,000 goal. 100% of the money raised will go to support our programs for disAbled women, including our Women and Accessibility Support Group. If you would still like to make a donation to our team, you can do so here.
It was wonderful to be part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon again this year and we look forward to participating in 2013. Thank you to our amazing team members and generous donors for making this year another great success!