Today marks my 40th day as CEO. Why mark 40 days? This is because the number 40 holds special meaning for us this year. For 40 years we have been offering services for women who are escaping abuse and violence. In some ways this seems like a long time to be supporting women and children; however, when you reflect on this it is surprising that we have only been offering services for 40 years! Especially when we know that the abuse of women has been happening for many more years than 40.
I am grateful every day that I have the privilege to lead an organization where we serve some of the bravest women and children I have ever met. I also have the good fortune to lead a team full of smart and compassionate individuals who make a significant difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.
I enter this role at a very important time. A time that will no doubt go down in history. During the past year we have witnessed the #metoo and #timesup movement. This movement and growing intolerance of the misuse of power over others and gender-based violence are long overdue. It has opened up a productive dialogue and helped to raise awareness, yet we have a long way to go and a dialogue is only as productive as the action that follows it.
As I reflect on the goals I have as the new CEO, I know that my ultimate job is to make substantial gains towards accomplishing our agency’s vision, which is “a community free of violence and abuse in any of its forms.” This is a lofty task for our staff group. And we cannot make measurable steps without the help of the community.
As we launch into our 40th year I ask for your help. What can you do, you ask?
Here are four ideas:
Plant a Seed – During spring we enjoy the beauty of regrowth and new life. We marvel at the flowers and the produce that has grown from the seeds that were carefully planted. When I am asked by concerned folks how they might help a friend or family member they are worried about and fear may be experiencing abuse, I suggest that they “plant a seed.” What I mean by this is that they let that individual know that they care, are willing to listen and, most importantly, will not judge. Women must have a sense of safety in confiding and will often do so on their own time and terms.
Raise Awareness – To help us make strides towards our vision we need you to spread the word! Educate those around you that abuse and the misuse power and control over others are never okay. I invite you to talk to 40 people about our organization and the important work that we do. Ask 40 people to follow us on Facebook. This year, I would love to see us have more than 4,000 followers! Follow us on Twitter.
Give – How can you give to Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region? There are a variety of ways! You could donate $40. This helps us feed four people for one day. That could be two moms and two children. If you have the means, make a commitment to donate $40 a paycheck this year to help us mark our 40th year anniversary and help support one of the many programs that we run each week, including music therapy and group counselling for moms and their children.
Be an Ally – We need many partners to help us achieve our vision. Consider volunteering with us. Fulfill a need that we have by donating an item from our Wish List. Fundraise for us – host an event on our behalf. This could be anything from a small get together to a large corporate event. Or attend one of the events that we are hosting. Stay tuned…we have a great one being planned for November and Women Abuse Awareness Month.
Jennifer Hutton, CEO