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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

#12DaysOfGiving with Rinaldi Homes - YWCA


It is easy around Christmas time to get swept up in the hustle and bustle - stressed out about what you have to buy for which family member, when to beat the mall rush - sometimes you need to just stop and reflect. We take for granted our families, the roof over our heads, the warm food at every meal, the clean pair of socks and underwear we have every morning. The 12 Days of Giving program allows us to connect with different charities throughout the holiday season and find out what is really going on in our community. It has also allowed us all to gain a much deeper appreciation for all that we have!

We were happy to once again include the YWCA as part of the 12 Days of Giving. The YWCA has been a staple in our community for over 89 years, providing essential programs and services to women and their families. The YWCA has done some amazing work this year, take a look at the stats:
  • 757 women and 122 children stayed in our Emergency Women’s Shelter - 1,036 women had to be turned away 
  • 78 individuals representing 14 families with 34 children stayed in our Emergency Family Shelters – 77 families are currently on the waiting list
  • 49 men with 15 children stayed in our Emergency Men’s and Family Shelter
  • Skills Development services were accessed by 3,635 individuals
  • Women’s Addiction Recovery Mediation (WARM) program was accessed by 54 women
  • Sex Trade On My Terms was accessed 753 times
  • 24 women stayed in our On Site Transitional Housing units
  • 46 women stayed in our Supported Transitional Housing units
  • 94 women, 5 men, and 63 children stayed in our Off Site Transitional Housing units
  • We served 94,691 meals

“With rising housing costs and increasing costs to rent as well as limited availability of safe, affordable housing options, we have seen longer stays in shelter and have been running at overcapacity for more than a year at almost 125% capacity." - Elisabeth Zimmerman, Executive Director at the YWCA

It is now more important than ever to give back, operating that high over capacity for such an extended period of time can put a lot of stress on organizations like the YWCA. This year we collected gifts and necessities to be given out to the women and families - everyone deserves something special for Christmas!

The tree is starting to get full of donations at our office!

Elisabeth continued to reiterate the consequences of the fact that our community is still struggling with not having enough safe, affordable housing, "We have also seen increasing waitlists for all of our programs meaning we have had to turn away many more women, men, and families than ever before. We have been using all of our possible resources including cots and couches, as we work hard to ensure women, children, and men have somewhere safe to rest their heads.”

Thank you YWCA for all that you do in our community, we look forward to our continued partnership!

Our first load of gifts for the YWCA!

Hand knit gloves and scarves for the children at the YWCA.

Friday, 30 December 2016

#12DaysOfGiving Day 12 - Community Care

Throughout the #12DaysOfGiving we had bins in our office to collect winter clothing and canned food for Community Care. What began in 1919 as food and clothing assistance has grown to 17 programs - with their vision for a healthy, caring community where everyone lives with dignity and purpose, they are making a huge impact in our community!

Fast facts about Community Care:
  • EVERY client is interviewed, assessed and registered for need
  • 1 can of donated food is one can of food we did not have the day before
  • 6 times per year (or every other month), a registered client may access 3-5 days worth of food, as well as clothing at Community Care, plus in emergency situations
  • 12 percent of our trusteeship caseload are baby boomers
  • 13 percent of the population of St. Catharines will access our food services
  • 17 different programs are offered at Community Care
  • 30 community garden plots were tended by 78 adults and 47 children
  • 39 years of age is the average life expectancy of a homeless person in Canada
  • 40 percent of our food bank clients are children
  • 47 percent of all clients served at the ID clinic are children and youth
  • 70 percent of youth seeking shelter assistance are female (16-24 years of age)
  • 84 people seek shelter-related assistance through Housing Help on a daily basis
  • 206 volunteers are scheduled weekly at CC in St. Catharines & Thorold = 30,900 hours
  • 262 clients were supported through the Regional Trusteeship Program to stabilize their housing and keep them safe and warm, including youth 16-24 years of age
  • 440 individuals participated in our seasonal tax clinic program in 2014
  • 482 children and youth were given the opportunity to participate in sports through the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program
  • 566 ADDITIONAL volunteers assisted in many capacities at Christmas=1,700 hours
  • 1,087 households had IDs replaced/obtained for the first time through our ID Clinic
  • 1,500 children received back to school support through the Snacks 'n' Sneakers Program
  • 1,850 households have access to food security each month
  • 1919 is the year Mrs. Leone Taylor recognized a need within the community, leading to the agency now known as Community Care
  • 3,638 phone calls were received seeking assistance with utilities
  • 4,000 pounds of food is distributed daily, 5 days a week
  • 13,000 students are fed each school day through Niagara Nutrition Partners (Region-wide)
  • 13,732 phone calls were received by Housing Help seeking access to shelter needs
  • 358,180 dollars was distributed to 733 families through NEEF (Niagara Energy Emergency Fund) utilities program
  • 1 person can make a difference in the life of someone in need in our community

#12DaysOfGiving Day 11 - Acts of Kindness

This year we wanted to add a new way of giving. We thought acts of kindness would be a great way to give people a surprise Christmas present.

We packaged up thermal socks, gloves, hats, and a $10 Tim Horton's gift card in a little bag to be handed out to the homeless. These packs would offer them warmth in the winter and a hot meal. We drove around downtown to try and find people that we could offer these gifts to. We will continue to hand out the packs till we run out.

We also had $2 Tim Horton's gift cards to offer to people we ran into on the street - it's always a nice surprise to be offered a free Timmy's coffee!

We hope everyone enjoys their Christmas with a little warmth! :)

Michael making up our warmth packs to hand out.

Friday, 23 December 2016

#12DaysOfGiving Day 10 - Site Visits

Michael, Paco & Danielle bringing coffee and timbits to site.

Yesterday was our annual site visits! This year we took Paco along for the ride - we brought Tim Hortons coffee and Timbits out to Merritt Meadows, Rosewood Estates and Optimist Village. It wasn't as cold yesterday as it has been but it was still a nice treat for everyone to warm up with some fresh coffee. 

As someone with a nice and warm office job, I'm not sure how all of our guys and the trades do it. I was out there for just a few short hours and my toes were frozen! They say you get used to it, but I'm not sure I would. It's not easy being out there everyday, but we really appreciate our guys and our trades! They help us to maintain our high quality and build your dream homes on time. Thanks guys for all that you do, we are very grateful.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

#12DaysOfGiving Day 9 - Canadian Martyrs' Breakfast Club

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for kids who are growing and learning all day long! Robyn let us know about Canadian Martyrs Elementary School, who runs a Breakfast Club on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for their students who may not have access to a healthy breakfast every morning.

Norma and Pam have taken on the task of feeding the children before classes begin. It's a very short window they have between buses arriving and the bell ringing, but they manage to do it in a very smooth manner.

On Wednesday we brought an extra special breakfast in for the students! With the help of Sunset Grill (Fourth Ave), we were able to serve up a big hearty breakfast of pancakes, bacon and fruit. You could smell it down the hall and throughout the whole school by the end of serving - smelt amazing!

The kids' faces were priceless when they walked in - I think the best word to describe it is "shock". They were stunned when they walked into the room and saw a big heaping pancake on their plates. Some were so excited just to have bacon, which they don't normally get at home. They were all so polite and grateful - one student said to Joan, "Wow, thank you so much for this. This is the best breakfast ever!"

We were in and out with the children in about 15 min - but those 15 min meant a lot and we were so happy to help out with such a great program. Thanks to Pam and Norma for putting in the effort every day to serve the children a healthy breakfast to start their day off right!

Andrea, Don, Joan & Danielle serving up breakfast

Robyn & Andrea helping out at Breakfast Club

#12DaysOfGiving Day 8 - YWCA

The YWCA Niagara Region provides emergency homeless shelter, food, and assistance to women in poverty. They are committed to social change and work to create a community that supports women who are living in poverty and provides support through each step towards financial stability and independent living.

They impact on the community is amazing:

- 720 women and 130 children stayed in their Emergency Women's Shelter

- 88 families and 266 children stayed in their Family Shelters

- 54 men with 11 children stayed in their Men's Shelters

- 4,443 participants took part in their Skilled Development Workshops

The YWCA is a leader in the Niagara Region providing awareness through education and advocacy to raise the equality of women and the visibility of issues in our community. They are also one of the local organizations that is feeling a real stretch of resources with the increase of demand for homeless shelters and meal programs this season. In the Niagara This Week article, Elisabeth Zimmermann, Executive Director of the YWCA, had said that they are seeing cots being set up in program rooms to accommodate the overflow.

I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many of the staff at the YWCA and WOW - they are all so genuine and have such big hearts! They really care about the work that they do and you can see that in the events that they run. This year we were sponsors for their No Fixed Address event, and we even slept in our cars overnight to gain a new appreciation for all that we have. We also took part in their Women in Leadership event that brings new light to many topics surrounding women in leadership and raising each other up.

YWCA, thank you for all that you do in the community!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

#12DaysOfGiving Day 7 - Welland & District Humane Society

A member of our team, Brian, brought up donating to the Welland & District Humane Society this year and we thought that was a great idea. He supports the centre and has adopted his family dogs from there in the past - as animal lovers, we were totally onboard! 

Paco wanted to make his contribution to the #12DaysOfGiving this year too!

The Welland & District Humane Society is an affiliate of the Ontario Humane Society and that affiliation gives them authority to investigate cases of animal cruelty and prosecute offenders when necessary. Over the last few years Welland & District SPCA has grown to include its own spay/neuter clinic and a mobile S/N clinic. A close partnership with Petsmart Charities of Canada has helped their clinics and their S/N initiatives. They continue to set the PACE for animal Protection, Advocacy, Care, Education - and they are striving for a future where no animal is left alone, unwanted or mistreated.

If you have ever visited the SPCA you know how hard it is to see all of the animals there without homes (and not take them all home with you). This year we brought them lots of treats, leashes, toys and food. Paco helped to bring all of our donations to the centre and visit all of his buddies!