March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a wonderful time to celebrate the passionate efforts made by BC organizations to support women in their communities and across the globe. But these non-profits don’t limit supporting the female species to one day a year. From providing career training to offering a safe haven from abuse, organizations across the province are striving to make sure BC women have access to the aid and support they need every day of their lives.
Non-Profits that Support Women on Vancouver Island
Through employment training, career mentorship, and online support forums, Bridges for Women assists women who have experienced trauma, abuse, and violence, so they may lead independent lives and recognize their own strength. The organization recently launched the Metis Women Program, which offers similar services to this underserved demographic.
This local charity can step in where Bridges for Women leaves off. Women who have undergone job training programs receive interview training and “makeovers” to help them build confidence in their professional future. In addition to providing a workplace wardrobe, Wear2Start arranges for makeup sessions and haircuts, clothing alterations and dry-cleaning services.
WIN is a local social enterprise that offers a lot more than the quality second-hand clothing found in their boutiques, the sale of which funds their initiatives. Their mission is to “support women along their journey between crisis and wellness”, and they do this through various programs such as Crisis and Referral (sourcing legal support, housing, employment, counselling, and more for women in crisis), the Gift Certificate Program (providing clients with gift certificates that enable them to make their own choices and shop for essentials discreetly), and the New Start Program (for women who are preparing to leave transition housing for their own home).
This organization supports single parents of any gender, but certainly assists women. They offer affordable courses and peer support groups on a wide range of practical topics to this distinct demographic. Some of their courses include Understanding Your Child’s Mental Health and Wellness, Understanding Anger, Mindfulness, and Healthy Boundaries.
Joy’s Place is a part of Tri-City Transitions, and ensures women with or without children have a safe place to stay when escaping domestic abuse situations. Clients can take shelter at the home for up to a month, during which time they not only receive basic living necessities, but also referrals, access to advocacy groups, crisis intervention, support groups, clothing, and more.
Like Joy’s Place, Transition House offers a protected space for women fleeing violent and abusive situations. Each year more than 2000 women take advantage of the 24-hour crisis line offered by the organization, their support programs and shelter services, and community education opportunities. In addition to supporting women, the Society also has programs for children who have witnessed abuse.
Women and trans individuals who have survived sexual assault are given non-judgemental support – be it physical, emotional or psychological – through the Centre as they work through their trauma. The organization runs a Response Team, facilitates victim services and prevention initiatives, and provides counselling.
On the Mainland
With a plan to “change the face of leadership”, The Minerva Foundation offers leadership-building programs that help young women reach their potential. “Learning to Lead” is one such initiative, an annual weekend for girls in Grade 11 that includes inspiring guest speakers, leadership workshops, and community building activities. Minerva also offers education awards to women facing barriers.
This Vancouver-based organization works with girls and women in minority groups to help fight the stigmas and discrimination surrounding these demographics. They assist immigrant, Indigenous, refugee, and Canadian-born women alike, though projects that instill a sense of community and belonging. For example, each year they host the Unlabel Fashion Workshop and Show, which encourages participants to re-fashion clothing in styles that showcase their individual personalities in a supportive and social environment.
Acting as a shelter and resource centre, this organization provides women living in Vancouver’s downtown core a place to be safe and have their basic needs met. In addition to meals, free clothing, and computer access, clients can receiving first aid care, harm reduction supplies, and feminine hygiene products. The Power of Women social justice initiative gives marginalized clients a voice, and “skills development” opportunities enable clients to develop useful career and leadership abilities.
Rise is a community legal centre that offers various pro bono services to residents who self-identify as women. The staff is made up of full-fledged lawyers and law students, and clients have access to legal advice, will drafting, immigration application, and court representation for cases relating to family law.
This is only a small sampling of the many women-based organizations in BC. It’s clear our province is full of people who want to help improve the world, one woman at a time. If you want to include one of these or any other organizations in your corporate giving strategy, HeartPress (a woman-run business) can assist you by doing what they do best: help business do good!