Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter

November 30, 2010 11:00 ET

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter: Family Violence Survivor One Year Later

Calgarians making a difference through Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter Adopt-a-Family program

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2010) - Cathy (not her real name) and her teenaged sons are survivors of an abusive relationship who are thankful for the support they received last year through the Adopt-a-Family program run by Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter.

Every day Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter sees the difference Calgarians are making in the lives of women and children who experience family violence and abuse. With financial insecurity the single largest barrier for women and children to leave an abusive situation, the extra support provided by programs like Adopt-a-Family is crucial.

It was November 2009 when Cathy made the difficult decision to leave a four-year abusive relationship. "Having two teens presents its own challenges," Cathy explained when describing the stress. "It's difficult for them."

Cathy had a new place to live but she had little to take with her to get re-established, much less get through an emotional and financially stressful holiday season. A friend told her she needed support.

Cathy called the 24 hour Family Violence Helpline at 403 234-SAFE (7233) to reach Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter and connect with a Community Counsellor. The counsellor met with Cathy at a place in the community that was safe for her. Cathy explained, "The support I received was extremely important -- knowing that someone actually cared about me, and my boys, and was there for me no matter what, someone I knew I could lean on. It was so important going through a stage in which I had no idea where or who to turn to next."

Cathy was added to the Adopt-a-Family program and received additional financial support at Christmas time. "I still have to work on self esteem and other things that have arisen from being in an abusive relationship, but I'm in a much better place now. My kids are good boys and they're protective of their Mom. I'm grateful for the emotional and financial support I received." 

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter depends on donations of money or gift cards to the Adopt-a-Family program. This year, the goal is to provide 150 families, who have accessed services and continue to be in difficult circumstances, with $100 in gift certificates per person for food and another $100 in gift certificates to shop for Christmas gifts. The program not only provides financial security but also empowers women so that they can provide for their family's needs and select gifts.

"Our financial donations are down this year and that's also a trend we're seeing with our Adopt-a-Family program. We just don't want to let down any families who are struggling to re-build healthy lives. It's this kind of vulnerability that results in women returning to an abusive situation. But with a deadline of December 10 fast approaching, we may have to take 20 to 25 families off the list," says Maureen O'Connor, Director of Resource Development and Communications.

Employee groups, families and individuals are urged to go to to make a donation to the Adopt-a-Family program before December 10th. A financial contribution is preferred, but gift cards to stores that offer a large selection suitable for families -- WalMart, Superstore, or Safeway – are the most useful. A financial or gift card donation is fully tax receipted. Anyone with questions can call the Donations line at 403 539-5130.

Cathy, family violence survivor, is available for interviews as long as her identity can be concealed.

To arrange an interview, please contact the undersigned.

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter was the first organization in Western Canada to support Calgarians experiencing family violence and has changed the lives of more than 100,000 women and children, youth and men over the past 35 years with family violence crisis support, counselling and prevention services. Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter services are free for clients; all of our services respect confidentiality and focus on individuals' strengths; all of our services are working towards a society free from family violence. 24 hour Family Violence Helpline 403 234-SAFE(7233)

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