Caring is a choice we make, as individuals, and as organizations, no matter who we are. When your clients are considered vulnerable persons and you are unable to meet with them due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the coronavirus pandemic, you feel a need to respond. Allow us to share with you how S.H.A.D.E. (Safe Housing And Directed Empowerment) Inc., a small charitable non-profit, has recently responded to the needs of our clients, primarily participants of our new community-requested program, MIRRORS: A Reflection of Immigrant Women Building Healthy Relationships in northwest Winnipeg. Like many others, we have suspended these well-received workshops in order to adhere to the Province of Manitoba’s guidelines for social distancing, regular handwashing, and a maximum of 10 individuals per social gathering. We do this willingly, for the safety and well-being of us all, but with heavy hearts.
We have unsung heroes who play pivotal roles in advancing SHADE’s mandate of responding to and supporting immigrant and refugee women and their children who have been impacted by intimate partner violence and/or family violence. At the end of our early March 2020 Board meeting, our web designer and maintainer, Shayani Ann Turko, who also professionally manages and our social media accounts on Facebook and instagram, astutely saw the big picture and suggested we consider offering care packages to our women participants of the MIRRORS program after consulting with each women as to their specific needs. The SHADE Board has valued Shayani’s selfless input into advancing the mandate and compassion SHADE wants to be known for.
Most of our MIRRORS women rely on public transportation, have dependent children, some with medical needs, and are presently frightened to venture outdoors even to try to obtain essential staple supplies and groceries. Hygiene products are often sold out when they were able to get to stores, as were staple groceries such as flour, rice, yeast, even at some places, milk. They are limited in what they can carry on a bus. These women responded hesitantly when first asked what they needed and how SHADE could best support them during these challenging times. When assured that no Board member was personally paying for the care packages, they began to state their needs. One of our funders, The Winnipeg Foundation, has approved spending some of our grant money on these care packages. The Breakfast Club of Canada has also contributed to defraying the costs involved. To date, two rounds of care packages have been delivered to ten women with a total of eleven children benefiting as well. The care packages have consisted of both groceries and hygiene products, which were carefully purchased according to need and number of individuals per household.
Gratitude has been expressed over and over. One single parent exclaimed, “My son is over the moon over the cereal!” and again, “We are so blessed with this fruit and red meat and bread! Thanks once again.” Another woman exclaimed, “You are really my fairy lady! I did not expect this!” Yet another woman called me in tears explaining that her daughter, who recently gave birth, had no formula for her baby and they had gone to so many stores looking for the formula this baby needed, but each store was sold out. Her small family had been choosing between paying the rent and buying a little food. When I arrived with groceries, her son exclaimed, “Mom, we’re not going to starve after all! Let me help carry the groceries in! I’m strong!” This mother/grandmother was incredibly grateful for the formula for her grandson and the groceries for themselves. These brief glimpses of gratitude contribute to our firm belief that what we are doing is an essential service, for surely, SHADE is making a significant difference in each of these families.
Should you desire to help us help these vulnerable women and their children, your donations will be gratefully received. Thank you for partnering with us – you are making a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable immigrant women and their children here in Winnipeg.
Donations can be made through our website @ www.shadewinnipeg.org and by clicking on the Canada Helps link, which automatically generates an official income tax receipt. You may also choose to write a cheque to SHADE Inc. c/o PO Box 49117 GARDEN CITY, Winnipeg, MB R2V 4G8.