Transcript of the speech given by Jennifer Hutton, CEO, at Hats Off to Mom, May 13, 2018


Thank you, Casey MacDonald from the Rogers Media group, for emceeing our event today as well as being our auctioneer extraordinaire.

A special thank you to our Fund Development Manager Alan Sharpe and our Fund Development Assistants Luisa and Jennifer. We could not have had this event without the support of our committee members and volunteers. Thanks to St Georges Hall for the amazing facilities and the wonderful food.

Good Morning Everyone! Welcome to our first ever Hats Off to Mom Brunch! Thank you so much for being here and for your support of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.  It means so much that you chose to spend your morning with us!

I think today could easily be argued to be one of the most important days of the year. Because today we celebrate mothers.

Today is a day of firsts for me. My first speech as the new CEO of Women’s Crisis Services and my first Mother’s Day.

Fortunately, in preparation of motherhood I have had a lot of important people in my life impart some of their parenting wisdom upon me. I had a lot to learn! Actually, many of those people happen to be in the room today. My Mother Donna, my Mother in Law Alice, my sister Kim and my colleague Carolyn. Even my niece Sydney gave me some advice on what I should and shouldn’t do. These wonderful women helped me to understand what I could expect from motherhood. They talked of immense joy, unconditional love, and complete bliss. They also let me know that I should be prepared for a boatload of worry and at times heartache.

Mother’s Day is often characterized by family time, celebration and togetherness. It can also be a difficult time for those that have lost a child or a mother or who are struggling with things like infertility, illness, or separation.

Parenting can be difficult and challenging at the best of times, but for those women who are also living with or who are trying to escape domestic violence, it is particularly daunting. The women that we support parent through fear and uncertainty and show enormous strength, resilience, courage and resourcefulness.

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region operates two local shelters Anselma House in Kitchener and Haven House in Cambridge for women and children who need a safe place to stay. At any one time we could have upwards of 90 women and children living at our shelters. On average 45% percent of whom are children most them being young children under the age of 8.

We also offer regional outreach services bringing our services directly to the women in our community and in any one year we would support over 900 women. That is almost equal to the population of the small town in grey county where I grew up prior to moving to the wonderful waterloo region.

Let me share the story of Maria. Maria came to stay with us at one of our shelters with her two young children a couple of years ago. She had been enduring abuse for a while and had decided to leave when things were getting worse and because she was particularly worried about the impact it was having on her children.

Last week I received an email from Maria, a highlight of my week, she let us know that she was doing well as were her children. She said that our staff had truly made a difference in her life. She let me know that before she left the shelter she had told staff that she was going to make something of herself. In this email, she reported that she recently graduated from college and said that her children were also doing very well in school. She said that our agency helped her at a time of need and showed her family what empathy could look like. She said she was encouraged to keep fighting and stay strong even when she was feeling helpless.

Maria also shared that the programs we offered her and her children both in shelter and following her stay were pivotal to their healing. She attended our Understanding Me group where she had the support of a facilitator as well as the other women in the shelter. This group helped to repair her self-identity and self-esteem.

Her and her children also got to participate in the Tender Loving Connections program a partnership with our local Family & Children’s Services. This program gave Maria a better understanding of her children’s behaviour and their big feelings following the abuse that they witnessed. Maria was able to come together with her children in this strength-based group and have guided opportunities to further develop their connection while enhancing their sense of safety. The family even got to partake in music therapy during their stay.

Through your support of Women’s Crisis Services you make these programs possible and help the many Maria’s and children that we support each day in moving beyond violence.

This Mother’s Day let us take our hats off to all moms. Including but not limited to Aunts, Grandmas, Step Moms, Foster Moms, Dads that are also Moms, those that are Mothers not through giving birth but from the giving of their hearts, those that have lost a Mom or a Child and those that long to be Moms.

Let us reflect on all the women that are living in our region doing their very best to parent while also living in a situation where they fear for their own safety and the safety of their children.

Let us honour all moms every day of the year! Thank you.





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