Supporting women in Niagara By Michelle Allenberg, Tribune Staff Sunday, February 5, 2017
It’s never too late for a second chance.
Niagara Women’s Enterprise Centre in Welland provides assistance to women in need of support. Brenda Martin, manager at the organization, said staff help women of all ages, whether they are 17 or 70.
The women come from diverse backgrounds and have had obstacles which prevented them from finishing school or from working. Martin said those obstacles can range from coming from abusive homes to addiction.
The organization offers a number of free programs throughout the region, including office administration classes, hospitality classes and the violence against women program (VAW).
Martin said the organization offers a safe place for women to tell their stories and feel heard. The VAW program offers a variety of services to women who are survivors of domestic abuse.
“There is something very empowering with women supporting each other and being able to tell their story ... I think it is a very unique experience and very needed,” Martin said.
For Martin, a large part of what the organization stands for is for a woman to find her voice. Martin said to ensure this happens staff keep the classes small.
“Women who felt that they couldn’t speak up about things, and suddenly you can tell your story and build your dreams,” Martin said.
St. David’s Anglican Church in Welland hosted its fifth annual Ladies’ Day event to raise money for the organization. Judy Szalinski, organizer, said each year the church, in partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada, donates $800 to the centre for a scholarship.
As Szalinski teared up speaking about the local organization, she said education gives people power. Giving women confidence and courage is important to the church, so that is why they have partnered with the organization.
Martin said the organization uses the money to support students who are interested in pursuing post secondary education. Past scholarships have assisted students who have attended Brock University and Niagara College. Martin said students have used the money to buy textbooks or pay some of their tuition.
Martin has been with the organization for 10 years and has been impacted by so many people. She said when you see someone who hasn’t worked for maybe 20 years and all of a sudden have confidence, it is a great feeling to see.
Martin said one woman in particular came to the organization for assistance after leaving a destructive relationship with her ex. Martin said the woman, who is in her 40s, didn’t have a high school diploma, but has now completed her diploma and will receive the scholarship to attended college.
St. David’s Church also supports international causes. Szalinski said through the Anglican Church of Canada they support medical bicycles in Africa. She said the bikes provide the support remote communities need in order to access medical treatment.
The church also supports Aboriginal communities that don’t have access to water in Northern Ontario. Szalinski said the funds will support the construction of a well. For Szalinski, this is a another important cause because water should be a basic human right.
Szalinski hoped to raise about $3,500 during the vendor sale at the church. There were 25 vendors selling goods from homemade soaps to jewellery.