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YWCA August 2017 Newsletter 

Living Wage Leader

A living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover her family’s basic expenses within her community. In Waterloo Region, the 2017 living wage rate is calculated to be $15.42 an hour. Living Wage Waterloo Region is a program that encourages...local employers to pay a living wage and that acknowledges and celebrates employers that do. Living Wage Waterloo Region states that, ‘living wage employers are responsible employers who care about their employees and the community. They recognize that paying a living wage constitutes a critical investment in the long–term prosperity of the economy by fostering a dedicated, skilled and healthy workforce’.

As an organization dedicating to fighting poverty, and to helping women to achieve economic independence, it only makes sense for the YWCA to start with our own employees. We are therefore very proud to have been named one of Living Wage Waterloo Region’s ‘Living Wage Leaders’.

In Her Shoes!

An exciting new employment training program, for women who experience barriers to employment, is coming soon to the YWCA, thanks to a new Trillium Foundation Seed Grant! In Her Shoes will provide.... technical training and practical work experience in skills relating to retail, e-retail and self-employment, and will deliver a series of small enterprise skills training workshops to women in the community. The training and work experience will take place at our quality used and vintage shoe, bag and accessory store, In Her Shoes. Stay tuned for ways you can help!

Fearlessly Girl

We are so excited to have received funding from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation for our program Fearlessly Girl. Fearlessly Girl is...a movement program that focuses on enhancing the body-image, self-esteem, and confidence in girls aged 11-16. It is designed to help identify and address body issues while encouraging girls to explore physical activity in a way that feels right to them. The program will also offer trainings to community professionals to encourage inclusive programming that is reflective of the needs of girls of this age.

YW Impact

Volunteer Spotlight
It’s 4 a.m. on a Monday morning, and Frank Roorda is sitting at Tim Hortons, waiting. He’s waiting for the day-olds—whatever remains of yesterday’s bagels, croissants, Timbits, etc.—to find their way into boxes or bags and the bed of his hatchback. And then..he’ll make his rounds—more food pickups (he might have 20 bags of food, 150 to 200 lbs., by the time he’s finished) and delivery to the YW’s Emergency Shelter and two House of Friendship programs.

He’s been collecting and delivering food to help those experiencing homelessness in our Region for 20 years, since his retirement after a career in the food industry.
“Most of our clients can’t afford to go to Tim Hortons,” says Maria Wallenius, Emergency Shelter Services Manager. “This is a real treat for them.”
Frank Roorda was born in Britsum, Friesland, The Netherlands, 82 years ago, the youngest of five children. The family, he says, was poor. “There wasn’t much food during the war.” His father was disabled. “He couldn’t talk, and he couldn’t walk. He was injured trying to repair stone shingles on the roof after a storm.”
So 13-year-old Frank left school after Grade 7 and went to work for a dairy, going from farm to farm on his bicycle, morning and evening, weighing milk and taking samples.
At 16, he took a job on a farm, working 12-hour days, Mondays through Saturdays. On Sundays, he worked seven hours. He was also studying at agricultural college.
In 1954, Frank, at 19, decided to emigrate to Canada. His sister had emigrated in 1951. He joined her, thinking that he’d stay in Canada for two years.
But jobs as a produce manager in cities across Ontario followed (he’s moved house nine times). He married. And stayed in Canada. He and his wife have been married for 60 years. They have an extended family of 61.
“Helping people who need help makes you feel good,” Frank Roorda says. “We’re in this world to help each other. You never know when you’re going to need help yourself.”
Our clients are grateful for the love and generosity shown by volunteers like Frank. So are we. Many thanks, Frank!

Community Sheroes

Community Sheroes is all about raising up the next generation of girls and gender non-conforming youth. The program focuses on building leadership skills and making change in the community and one of the ways we do this is by connecting participants with mentors. Sarah (mentor) and Grace (mentee) are prefect examples of a mentor/mentee power team. Grace saw a problem in her community and among her peers, talking about the issue together with her mentor, they decided that a GSA (Gay- Straight Alliance) in Grace’s neighbourhood was the social change project that was needed.
Quickly their efforts were recognized by library staff at the Kitchener Public Library Stanley Park branch, who opened up a welcoming space for them and their program and asked to partner in with them on the initiative. “It all just happened”, said Grace with a shy smile in Sarah’s direction. Sarah credited Grace with the idea, and her drive to make it happen, “I just asked around, I am a connected person and I am used to looking for new resources”, she said. Grace will be the leader for this new program, which will start in the fall and Sarah will be right there helping Grace along the way. The next thing they are going to tackle is leadership and public speaking on Grace’s request. She wants to be able to keep people talking and bonding in the GSA, Sarah already has a plan to help her achieve that goal. We asked them both what they adored about their mentor/mentee. Sarah stated, “I like working with Grace and I admire her dedication to making the world a more celebratory place for LGBTQ+ identified people.” The feelings of admiration were the same from Grace who said, “I like working with Sarah because she is willing to help me achieve what I want to, and helps me with anything I need and she is a great human. She is caring and would do anything for anyone.” The GSA will run every second Tuesday from Sept-December from 7 pm-8:30 pm at the Stanley Park Library- 175 Indian Rd., Kitchener.

YW Issues and Action


Earlier this year, the Globe and Mail released the results of its 20 month investigation into how police in Canada handle sexual assault allegations. Those results shocked the country. The investigation revealed that...

one in five sexual assault complaints is dismissed by the police as baseless, or ‘unfounded’. ‘Unfounded’ doesn’t mean that the police closed those 20% of cases because of lack of evidence, or because the complainants decided against proceeding with charges. It means that the police determined that one in five of the women who reported being sexually assaulted was either mistaken about what had happened to her or was lying.

To give some context to those numbers, about 10% of complaints of physical assault are dismissed by police in Canada as ‘unfounded’. And the ‘unfounded’ rate for other types of crimes is even lower. International research indicates that that truly ‘unfounded’ cases of sexual assault – truly mistaken or malicious reports – amount to no more than two to eight percent of reports. So there’s clearly something very wrong with the way many police forces respond to sexual assaults, and it’s no surprise that the majority of sexual assaults aren’t reported to police at all. Victims fear they won’t be supported and they won’t be believed, and far too often they’re right.

Like other women-serving organizations, the YWCA wasn’t entirely surprised by the results of the Globe and Mail study, but we were disappointed to learn that the ‘unfounded’ rate in Waterloo Region is even higher than the national average. In the five years reviewed, Waterloo Regional Police Services dismissed 27% of the sexual assault complaints they received – more than one in four – as ‘unfounded’.

Following the release of the Globe and Mail study, the provincial government asked every Ontario police service to look at their ‘unfounded’ sex assault cases, to better understand why so many allegations are being dismissed, and to find ways to do a better job of supporting victims and charging offenders. Waterloo Regional Police Services responded quickly by creating a community task force to assist them in this work, and asked the YWCA to be a part of that task force. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to making our community a safer place for sexual assault victims and all women.

YW Upcoming Events

Logo Launch!

Last spring we announced our plans to create a new logo and a refreshed brand that would better differentiate the YWCA from other organizations in the community and emphasize our special focus on women and youth. And we asked for your help in designing and selecting the logo that best does that.

Through an in-person focus group and then a public survey, we heard from more than 250 of you on eight logo options, and 36% shared the same first choice! It was among the top three choices for 59% of you, and that’s a great response rate and a very convincing win.

We‘ll be revealing our new logo at a special breakfast launch party at the Tannery, on Monday October 17th, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. To register; email: stephanie.vandeven@ywcakw.on.ca 

Newcomer Childminding Program with Conestoga College

Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning provides LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) programs in our community.  On behalf of Conestoga College we operate a childminding program which provides care to children whose parents are attending English classes.
Providing a Childminding program offers a valuable and crucial support to parents.  Newcomers face various challenges and stressors; by providing parents with Childminding they are able to focus on their learning and not have the added stress of seeking reliable, quality care.  Their children are provided with a safe and healthy environment, and parents who often are leaving their children in the care of someone for the first time are comforted that they are welcome to come and see their child at any time. Newcomer children face many stressors and changes.  Having Childminding at LINC locations provides easy access to parents if children are facing difficulties and need the added support and comfort of a parent. If there are any emergencies parents are also easily accessible.   Childminding at LINC locations supports parents with not having to travel long distances in a city that they may not be familiar with.
Children are with peers that are experiencing the same situation, being in a new country and environment where there may be communication barriers.  Children can connect with other peers that may speak their native language.  All children in the program have a commonality and don’t feel isolated.
Childminding staff provide support to children and their families being sensitive to the various backgrounds they may be coming from.  Enriching programming experiences focusing on cognitive, social/emotional, and physical activities which enhance children’s overall development are provided.  Staff are also trained in promoting language development.
A new Childminding program location will be opening September 2017 in Kitchener at 800 King Street where a LINC program is currently offered.  Care will be provided for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, the space will accommodate 32 children.  We value our partnership with Conestoga College and are thrilled that much needed services to support newcomer children will be provided.