It’s no secret that the pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence across the country, but stats recently shared by officials with Sources’ Women’s Place bring the reality closer to home.
According to the information, Women’s Place logged a 48 per cent increase in admissions to its Trauma Counselling program and a 36 per cent increase in crisis calls between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. In all, they fielded 1,104 calls and saw 181 women over the one-year period.
The figures, said Sharon Greysen – vice-president of Soroptimists International of White Rock – are “alarming.”
“This is in South Surrey, where we’re focusing our attention,” she said, of the group’s efforts to better the lives of women locally and around the world.
While there is a sense that the Semiahmoo Peninsula is less prone to such issues, the statistics affirm “there is a lot of need,” she said.
Like so many other service groups, the club’s ability to have a positive impact on the issue was hit hard by the pandemic.
In October, Greysen, club president Jas Salh and member Liz Aubert shared their concerns around COVID’s impact on fundraising – which ground to a halt and left them “living on fumes” – during a meeting to brainstorm ideas for adapting the club to the environment, including building awareness about the club itself.
Seven months later, they’re celebrating membership numbers that have doubled, a couple of surprisingly successful COVID-19-friendly fundraisers and the launch of a new website that makes it easy for anyone who wants to get involved with the club, learn more about it or donate to its endeavours to do so.
The website, soroptimistwhiterock.ca, went live a few weeks ago, said Salh.
Greysen and Salh said sharing their dilemma with the community last year also spurred an unexpected donation from a woman who was helped by the club long before any of the current members became involved.
The woman told Salh that she hadn’t realized until she read of its struggles that the club still existed today, and that she came forward to say thanks for the $150 that was granted to her some 50 years ago, as it changed her life by enabling her to study to become a teacher.
“It was a really sweet story, and it was unexpected,” Greysen said. “So that was really cool.”
The club is looking to launch an online fundraiser, and Salh said the retired teacher’s donation may spark a “pay-it-forward” campaign.
Two events held since last fall – a doughnut sale and a plant sale – raised nearly $4,000 for the club’s endeavours, which include the ReSTART program, which provides kits of household items for women and children leaving transition homes to start anew.
Club member Liz Aubert said just “two or three” of the kits have been distributed of late “because women aren’t able to move out that easily” in the pandemic.
“They’re stuck in the transition houses,” she said. “But we’ll keep trying.”
As members look ahead to days when meetings don’t have to be held online, and the social aspect of the club can truly be social again, they remain hopeful that membership numbers will continue to climb and that increased awareness of what Soroptimist International of White Rock strives to do will encourage further donations.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter