Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Our Story Why We Exist
Betty was first referred to The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence’s Second-Stage Shelter program by a Social Worker at Alberta Health Services. She was fleeing an abusive husband and roommate who had addiction issues while having the added concern of having physical mobility issues. The Centre provided her a safe place to stay while she received support for her trauma and assistance for her basic needs from compassionate staff and dedicated community partners. Her stay in one of the Centre’s shelter apartments, which is typically for a 6 month duration, was extended due to the housing issues that are occurring in Calgary as a growing city. During her stay at the Centre, Betty attended both individual and group counselling and learned to set goals and boundaries. She frequently commented how thankful she was for the friendliness of the staff and the security of the building. Betty became a stronger, more independent person and realized she was not alone. Betty told her Counsellor, “I now know that I am a strong person who can say no, without feeling bad about it. Because I have respect for myself, I [am] given respect back.” Betty now has since secured permanent housing for people who have physical mobility issues.
Jane registered for follow-up services after completing The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence’s Second-Stage Shelter program. Jane, who appeared to be suffering from the effects of trauma, began counselling with no goals and little hope for the future. Over the course of one year, Jane, with the assistance of the Follow-up/Outreach Counsellor, slowly worked through her trauma, learned to cope with the trauma of past abusive experiences, and eventually expressed a desire to create a better life for both herself and her seven year old son. She created a number of goals for herself, including goals of emotional well-being and financial independence. With support from her counsellor, she was able to learn strategies to enhance her well-being, as well as be connected to appropriate community resources to assist with financial planning, and employment. Eventually Jane found full time work and now resides in her own residence, with an improved sense of self-esteem and confidence.
Our Impact What We Do
The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, which we also call the Centre, is made up of 34 second-stage apartments; our families can stay for up to 6 months while receiving individualized counselling and parenting support. We have well trained professionals who not only care for the women but provide child care in a safe and secure environment.
While at second-stage shelter, women are at the greatest safety risk. Nearly half of all spousal homicides occur within two months of leaving, making safe and affordable housing, specifically for women and children impacted by domestic violence, essential.
What makes the Centre so unique in Canada is our ability to move women and children from our second stage shelter apartments into our longer term apartments, which we call Progressive Housing, all in the same building. We have 51 Progressive Housing apartments where the women and their children can stay for up to an additional 2 years.
Our vision is to provide flexible, accessible, low cost, secure transitional housing and support services for women and their children who have been assessed by crisis shelters – to achieve long term stability for women and their children who have been subjected to violence.
We believe that by providing women and children with safe, supportive and accessible programs and services that aim to build self-confidence and self-awareness, long-term stability can be achieved and the cycle of violence can be broken.
Our Programs How We Do It
Second-Stage Shelter Program
"The Centre is all about discovering what's already in you; it's there for you to learn about yourself, from yourself." - Former Resident
We have 34 Second- Stage Shelter apartments which are safe and welcoming. All 34 apartments are fully furnished. While the majority of these apartments are two-bedroom units for mothers and their children, we have 4 bachelor and 2 one-bedroom apartments, allowing us to serve single women who are fleeing domestic violence.
- Individual Counselling: Trained counsellors are available to all women and children residing in Second-Stage Shelter at the Centre. The counsellors provide support to help residents deal with the direct effects of violence. In addition, counsellors assist residents in practical matters such as securing financial support, applying for educational programs or employment, and connecting with agencies in the community. Counsellors will advocate for clients if the need arises, in order to assist them in their transition from supported to independent living. Scheduled counselling sessions lasting up to an hour-and-a-half in length are offered once a week, with drop-in counselling available on an as needed basis.
- Group Counselling: Group counselling is offered once a week. Some groups concentrate on domestic violence issues, while others deal with parenting concerns or literacy skills. All groups aim to build self-esteem and create an awareness of the impacts of domestic violence for the women. These groups are all psycho-educational in nature and are provided in a supportive environment.
"My counsellor helped me see how courageous it was to leave the relationship and try and move forward." -Former Resident
Progressive Housing Program
The Progressive Housing Program is an affordable and independent living, consisting of 51 two-bedroom units. The apartments are available to women, with children, who have been impacted by domestic violence and are now equipped to be more independent; however they are still provided appropriate and adequate supports. Families stay, on average, up to 24 months in this program. At which time they are prepared to transition to the broader community. Referrals may be made through agencies or through self-referrals from Calgary and surrounding areas.
Child & Youth Counselling Program
Children are often described as the forgotten victims of family violence. Though violence may not have been directed at them, the consequences of growing up with violence in the home have proved to have an impact on children's emotional and social development. The Centre employs a Child and Youth Counsellor who meets with all the children residing in Second-Stage Shelter at the Centre to provide individual counselling, group counselling and family support. The Child and Youth Counsellor also provides referrals for clinical counselling and other support services.
Child Care Program
Child care is available onsite to children at the Centre. Open Monday to Friday and offered in morning, afternoon, and evening. Activities are planned and healthy snacks are available. The Centre has two full-time child care workers as well as a team of trained volunteers.
During the summer, we offer the Children’s Summer Activity Program where our child care workers plan activities and field trips such as Calaway Park, Calgary Zoo, bowling, swimming, Calgary Corn Maze, etc. This program is supported by community donations.
We actively recruit volunteers to support programming at The Centre. Volunteer opportunities are currently available in the areas of:
- Pet therapy
- Child Care (must be at least 16 years old)
- Reception and office administration
- Maintenance and assembly of furniture
- Alternate therapies
If you are interested in volunteering at the Centre, please fill out our Volunteer Form on our website or call us at 403.270.7240.
I Am Courage Program
In April 2013, The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence launched its first public awareness campaign “I Am Courage”. The 2013 I Am Courage campaign focused on the Courage it took to leave domestic violence and to leave it for good. It celebrates and supports empowerment, confidence and independence. Courage means something to everyone. By identifying what courage means to you, you can empathize with what it takes to leave domestic violence.
While the original campaign focused on women and their children and was very successful, the Centre strongly felt that the campaign must expand to represent the Courage it takes to stand against domestic violence. In doing so, the campaign has become more inclusive in order to better represent the reality that we all have a role in ending domestic violence. The Courage Campaign was so successful in raising awareness about domestic violence and the Centre itself, that it has transitioned into a full year program.
The I Am Courage Program includes the opportunity to book a Courage Speaker, who can share her story of domestic violence – talking about the situation she was in, the courage it took to leave, and the courage it takes to not go back, or one of our Courage Ambassadors, Barb Higgins and Michelle Morgan, who engage with audiences about what courage means to them.
I pledge to have the COURAGE to stand against domestic violence; to acknowledge that abuse exists; to trust in my belief for what is right; and to be a role model. I am COURAGE.
Our Requests What You Can Do
We attribute success to people getting involved.
1. Join our digital mailing list!
2. Consider donating your time to the Centre! Volunteers are extraordinarily important for the Centre. Last fiscal year (2012-2013) our total volunteer hours reached almost 4000! Volunteers can help in childcare, Casinos, maintenance and housekeeping, administrative task (data entry, photo coping, etc.) and in the Mac’s Store just to name a few.
3. Book a Courage Speaker to come speak to your organization! Email Sarah at email@example.com for more information.
4. Donate today to support women and children leaving domestic violence. Either by offering a tax deductible gift to our organization or donating goods to the Centre. Check out our wish list of items we always are in need of below:
- New Baby Items: Clothing, Strollers, Food, Playpens, Portable highchairs, diapers, formula
- Gift cards: Grocery stores (Safeway, Walmart), Phone cards, Hair cut vouchers, Major shopping malls, Book stores, Bus tickets
- Family Passes: The Calgary Stampede, The Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park, Calaway Park, Corn Maze, Sporting events, etc.
- Personal care items: Make-up kits, Hair dryers/Curling irons, Shampoo and Conditioner, Bubble bath/Body wash, Women’s robes (all sizes), Slippers, Hats/gloves/scarves
- Cleaning Supplies: Laundry soap, Dish soap, Garbage cans and bags, Broom and dust pan, Mop and buckets, Toilet brush
- Linens: Hand and bath towels, Dish towels, Bathroom rugs, Pillows, Sheets for twin beds, Comforters for twin beds
- Home supplies: Lamps, Small appliances (coffee maker, kettle, toaster), Pots and pans, Small kitchen tools (can openers, potato peelers), Small space heaters, Fans, Flash lights, Batteries, etc.
If you have any of the above items that you would like to donate to The Centre, please call Sarah at 403-270-7240 to schedule a drop off. The Centre is unable to accept clothing, furniture and used baby/children items (toys, clothing, strollers, etc.).