Good morning everyone. I hoped you enjoyed your breakfast. Thank you to Ray of Hope for the wonderful food. And thank you to each one of you for being here this morning. I know that you are busy and have a number of competing priorities so thanks for choosing to spend part of your morning with us. We will keep things moving along so that we can get you out of here and onto your day in good time.
This year’s AGM theme is a year in reflection. Currently my reflection within the CEO role is bit limited two months to the day in fact. However, I have seen this organization grow and change for more than five years within my previous role as Outreach Worker.
This year we acknowledge that we have been providing services for 40 years to women and their children escaping violence and abuse. Both Haven House and Anselma House have roots dating back to 1978.
To celebrate 40 years is bittersweet. However, to have been able to offer and sustain services for that many years is something worth recognition. We are so grateful and fortunate to have had the support of our community, a strong team of staff and volunteers, generous donors, and the help of the United Way and the Ministry.
Yet the demand for services has not slowed and we continue to persevere towards our vision of a community that is free from abuse. We have a long road ahead of us.
Our organization has such a rich history – full of successes and trials. Both of which have brought us to where we are today. To accurately reflect on this agency’s journey, I called upon some of long time staff and volunteers so that I could learn directly from them how they have seen this organization change over the years.
Diane one of our administrative volunteers who rejoined us at the agency about nine months ago. Originally volunteered at Anselma House in 1979 when the shelter was on Duke street. Diane said that at that time she would volunteer on the overnight. It was a four-bedroom shelter and she said that security consists of her and a sheet of bulletproof glass. Diane noted that the more things change the more they stay the same. She reflected saying that as much as our organization provides great accommodations and professional resources that the problems that the women face are still the same and that the service continues to be very much needed.
Helen and Carol two residential staff with histories dating back 22 and 26 years respectively talked about the evolution of the agency and the services that we have offered during their tenure. They discussed how we have a Family & Services Worker on site and how they were both initially concerned with how this might work but now can acknowledge how valuable this partnership has been for our clients. They also mentioned how we have the services of Dr. Kathy our consulting Psychologist, a state of the art security system, and women having more privacy as they are no longer sharing bedrooms and bathrooms,
Jessica, one of our Outreach Workers, shared how her mother was a Volunteer Coordinator with the organization and Jess would come and visit her at work over 30 years ago. Then when Jess was 17 she started in a child care role and in 1994 joined the relief team. She has been here ever since.
This past year has been ripe with change including Mary’s departure following a tenure of over twelve years. Mary leaves a legacy of two beautiful shelters that provide a safe space and home away from home that women and children truly deserve.
I am so grateful to take over the helm and fortunate to do so when the mortgage on Haven House has been substantially paid down thanks to our very generous community as well as Mary’s, our finance department and our board’s astute financial oversight. The mortgage on Haven House currently sits at less than a million dollars. Due to this we have reopened the previously closed shelter beds and have added staff to support this.
We also recently received an increase in our base funding. A huge thank you to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. This funding provides us some much-needed breathing room and allows us the opportunity to examine any gaps in service that we have and develop solutions to innovatively address these.
Looking forward, it is an exciting time for me to take on this role as we have a new three-year strategic plan in place. Over the next few years we will focus our attention on three pillars: 1) Firstly, we will inspire action working to free our community from violence against women. Our goals will focus on creating more public awareness and growing our current community partnerships while developing some new ones. 2) Secondly, we will effectively serve those who need us most. We will continue to be innovative and enhance the capacity of our clients while understanding the diversity and unique needs of those that we serve. 3) Lastly, we will support our people those that work and volunteer at Women’s Crisis Services by enhancing the positivity of our workplace culture and through developing our internal leadership.
I want to take a minute to briefly acknowledge staff that are celebrating a milestone this years in terms of their years of service. A special thank you to these staff for their commitment to Women’s Crisis Services.
Years of Service
Angela Stahlbaum – 15 years (Angela is currently on maternity leave)
Angela Saldanha – 10 years
Donna Klasson – 10 years
Gail Thomson – 5 years
Joyce Birnstihl – 5 years