Women In Need Society of Calgary (WINS)
Our Story Why We Exist
As a single mother of five and new immigrant to Canada, Winnie faced many challenges. She was struggling to build a career in a new country where she had little work experience. She also lacked the computer skills necessary for many jobs. And without a stable income, she found herself without access to many of the basic needs items we all need to feel stable, secure and confident.
Winnie stopped by the Erin Woods Family Resource Centre in the hopes of making improvements in her life. She wanted to find a job and learn about resources available in her community. She also wanted to make positive changes for herself, her family and her neighbourhood.
Through WINS, Winnie received a Free Goods Referral for free clothing from our thrift stores, help with her resume, access to computer courses, and assistance applying for jobs. Her WINS Family Resource Centre Facilitator, Nadima, even helped her get a washer and dryer for her home. According to Winnie, every problem she came to WINS with, she was able to get help finding solutions.
“I feel safe and happy knowing that there is an office in my neighborhood that if I ever have any problem I can go to Nadima and talk to her and get help.”
Winnie soon began volunteering with WINS as she continued working to gain more job skills training. “I want to encourage and support other women. Even though my situation isn’t good, I have to give back to my community. It is also important for me to role model this for my kids, to be a good member of the community and to give back.”
Winnie also knows first hand what type of programming will help and inspire other women living in her neighbourhood. In fact, thanks to one of Winnie's great ideas, WINS now runs its successful Coffee Time program in many of its Family Resource Centres, bringing women in the community together to gain social skills and build networks of support.
For our clients, WINS is a place where they can gain the skills and supports to achieve self-sufficiency. For WINS, our clients like Winnie are a constant source of inspiration and ideas - ideas that can help us help even more women in need and their families.
Our Impact What We Do
In the mid-80’s, Catherine Tkach was living in a rehabilitation facility after having survived years in an abusive relationship and struggling with an addiction as a result. She needed clothing and all that was available was dirty and sitting in garbage bags in a basement room. Catherine knew then what she wanted to do with her life: create a space where women who were struggling could get what they needed in an environment where they had dignity and choice. Thus, the Women In Need Society (WINS) was born.
Today, our stores serve Calgarians at all socio-economic levels and fund 85 per cent of our programs available to women in need and their families. Partnering with more than 80 Calgary agencies, we provide marginalized women and their families with access to free basic need items, skill-building, social and goal based programs. We also partner with local agencies to offer entry level employment opportunities for those new to Canada, those needing work experience and those struggling to find employment elsewhere.
As Calgary faces a declining economic climate, the reality is that:
- One in 10 of our neighbours live in poverty
- One in five are children under the age of five
- A single mother, employed full-time earning minimum wage with a three-year-old child experiences a monthly deficit of $203.00 and an annual deficit of $2,436.00
- 70 per cent of families earning less than $30,000 annually worry about their ability to afford basic needs
- 21,000 children under the age of 18 are living in low-income households
- 68.8 per cent of low-wage workers 26 years or older are women
WINS understands that in order to break cycles of poverty, people need access to the basic needs required to provide for their families as well as access to the social networks so crucial for maintaining mental and physical health. That's why our programs and services are constantly evolving.
Over the past several years, we've seen an increased demand for our programs and services. To meet the increasing need, we opened three additional Family Resource Centre locations and expanded our Free Goods Referral Program to include free delivery of furniture and large household items to the women we serve.
In 2016 alone, over $624,000 in Free Goods Referrals were issued to women in need and their families and more than 13,000 adults and 5,000 children received critical support through WINS programs at our Family Resource Centres. This is a 40% increase over 2015 numbers.
ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS (2015):
Our Community Programs felt the impact of the economic downturn. We saw many new faces in our Family Resource Centres (FRC’s); in fact, attendance at our programs doubled from 2014.
- With donors, Calgarians, community partners and funders, we created hope and new beginnings for 1,800 individuals supported by our six Family Resource Centres;
- $483,506 given in free clothing, housewares, and furniture in our Free Goods Referral Program; and 88% of clients at our Family Resource Centres noted that we've helped them believe they can take care of themselves; and
- We received national attention as winner of the 2015 Trico Social EnterPrize Award; and we diverted 992,700 lbs from landfill through our recycling programs.
Our Board fully supports our priorities of strengthening our social enterprise operations so that we have more to invest in our programs, building our brand and profile in the community, and striving to ensure WINS remains a great place to work for our team.
Our Programs How We Do It
Each year, we help thousands of local women in need and their families through three key programs:
Family Resource Centres: WINS operates six Family Resource Centres in subsidized housing complexes across the city. Our centres provide families in need with a space to come together, share, and learn information and skills to move them towards self-empowerment and self-sufficiency. In 2016 our Family Resource Centres provided more than 20,000 services to individuals and families in need, a 68.5% increase over 2015, highlighting the need for WINS' services in Calgary.
WINS Thrift Store Social Enterprise: Through the generous donations of individuals and corporations, our four retail thrift stores sell affordable goods with all revenues supporting our programs and services for women in need and their families. Our stores also provide employment and work experience opportunities for those new to Canada, those returning to the workforce, and those who may not be able to find employment elsewhere.
Free Goods Referral Program (FGRP): WINS actively partners with more than 60 local agencies who refer women in need of clothing, housewares and furniture to set up and maintain a home for their families but have limited means to do so. These women are low-income single mothers, newcomers to Canada, women coming out of crisis situations and women in transition. Through the FGRP, our clients receive vouchers to use toward items in our thrift stores. Rather than simply providing our clients with these items, we empower our clients to choose what they need.
Our Requests What You Can Do
At WINS, we understand that not everyone is in a position to make a large financial donation, but there are so many other ways you can help us ensure we are able to continue providing programs and serivces to women in need and their families.
Donate Gently Used or New Goods: WINS gratefully accepts a wide variety of gently used and new items to be sold in our stores and offered free of charge to women in need through our Free Goods Referral Program. For your convenience, donations can be dropped off at our Donation Centre or at any of our four WINS Thrift Store locations. For more information on what we are able to accept or to schedule a pick-up, please visit www.womeninneed.net/donate-goods.
Shop4Change: Visit any of our four WINS Thrift Store locations and shop our selection of clothing, accessories, houseware and furniture. All revenue generated through our stores supports community programs for women in need and their families. Better yet, WINS customers get rewarded for shopping with us! Sign up for our Shop4Change Loyalty Program and you'll receive exclusive savings, member-only coupons and much more. Visit any of our four retail locations to sign up and save.
Fundraise: WINS loves a great community event and welcomes opportunities to partner with local groups to advance our mission. If you’re interested in holding a donation drive, hosting a barbeque, fashion show or other creative activity in support of WINS, please contact us.
Volunteer: We can always use an extra set of hands! Donations of clothing and household goods are received daily at our Donation Centre and WINS Thrift Stores and staff are always in need of assistance to sort through donations, hang clothes on racks and place merchandise on shelves. We also have volunteer opportunities for large groups and would gladly accomodate your corporate group or organization. Please fill out our online volunteer application or contact our Volunteer Relations Manager.
For more information on making a cash donation or to update us on a new funding opportunity, please call 403-255-5102 ext 233 or please contact us.