I drove down Euclid Avenue in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg this morning. Tears formed in my eyes as I saw child after child walking to school. Many of the children were not wearing ski pants, they had flimsy ear muffs and hoods instead of toques, running shoes instead of boots, and no scarves. I saw an older lady wearing slippers that were too small for her feet and was using the pompoms hanging from the strings of her toque to cover her mouth. It was -29°C outside.
My trunk was full of donations for North Point Douglas Women’s Centre (NPDWC). These donations were collected at Backcountry Women events and pick up and drop off locations around the city. We collected personal hygiene, cold weather clothing, and food. I am proud to say that it took me three trips from my car to bring everything into the centre! This was our first community outreach initiative and was successful.
I know the Executive Director, Tara and she gave me a tour of the centre. There is a small commercial kitchen where community members can train for their food-handling certificate and learn to cook wholesome meals, a child-minding room where first-aid trained community members care for children while their moms and guardians take part in programs, and upstairs are where the small, cramped offices are located.
The drop in centre has services that include laundry facilities, toast and coffee, and computers, as well as clothing and household items that can be taken as needed. Food and personal hygiene items are given upon request. Tara also pointed out that there are public washrooms available, something that is not commonly offered in the surrounding area. Other services offered include peer support, help with rental housing and landlords, and help obtaining Protection Orders and support in creating a safety plan.
There is a lot going on in a small space!
My tour and visit ended when two police officers came into the centre on official business. Within a half an hour, I saw a very small glimpse of what a vulnerable community faces daily. As a fellow woman and parent, it pulls at my heartstrings.
I also saw the good being done though. I met a community member who teaches women to cook, I met university students studying social work and conflict resolution organizing fresh food donations that came from a grocery store, and I listened to men laughing as they drank a hot cup of coffee. Men are only allowed in the centre during posted times otherwise the space is designated as a place for women only. There is a lot of hard work and healing taking place at NPDWC.
If you know of a women-focused nonprofit group, program, or organization in Manitoba that could benefit from the generosity of Backcountry Women, please email me so that I can add it to our list for potential future planning. Women empower women and as a community-driven organization, Backcountry Women supports women on and off the trail.
I want to use this opportunity to encourage you to get passionate about something that makes your heart sing and that makes our world a better place. Whether it is granting wishes for sick children, helping dogs and cats find furever homes, volunteering on community centre boards, or doing puzzles with seniors, there is something and someone out there for everyone to connect with.