Living Standards | Housing, Early Childhood Development
Wellness | Safety

Rowan House Society

A safe place of hope and healing for women and children fleeing family violence in the rural Foothills.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Imagine for a minute that your partner is no longer the person you fell in love with. No, you didn’t just grow your separate ways. No. One day your partner showed his true self and he turned out to be manipulative and violent.

Maybe that side of him would peek through after a stressful day at work or a night of drinking with his buddies and he would come around the next morning telling you he was sorry and didn’t mean to hurt you. And you love him so you believe him.

You hide the bruises with long sleeve shirts and makeup and put a smile on your face. But then it happens again, and again.

Finally, you have a choice. It’s not an easy one, but in a panic, you leave.

Staying with your partner could mean your life, but leaving is still terrifying. Staying was painful but it was comfortable, now you’re venturing into the unknown. You’re probably feeling confused and alone.

A woman’s initial contact with Rowan House typically starts with a call to our crisis line where her story, much like the one you just read, can be heard. If she agrees that our programming is a good fit and space is available she will begin her journey with us.

Once settled in, women and their children find community at Rowan House. They see other families are going through the same thing and they are not alone.

Women don’t have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from or ensuring their children have clothes on their backs, they can focus on coping and accessing services for moving forward.

Children also find comfort with our staff. They learn how to regulate their emotions and deal with the violence that they’ve witnessed or even experienced themselves.

Our staff encourage women to see themselves as complete and whole. We believe in second chances, new opportunities and homes free of violence.

As a past resident once said, “This is the best place to heal, grow and educate yourself. Bless each family and woman in their journey to greatness.

Our Impact

What We Do

We are a short-term women’s emergency shelter located in the Foothills of southern Alberta.

Our mission is to provide crisis intervention, long-term support and education for those affected by family violence in rural communities. In doing so, we work to fulfill our vision: that every person is safe and secure, and lives without abuse.

Our goal is to provide women and their children a safe environment that nourishes feelings of self-worth, lends an opportunity for healing and personal growth, and provides temporary housing while facilitating transition back into the community.

Safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment are our core values.

After the devastating floods of 2013, Rowan House became one of the first shelters in Alberta to embark on a journey toward a trauma-informed domestic violence service. Rowan House Trauma Informed services take into account an understanding of trauma in all aspects of service delivery. This means to put safety first and specifically avoid re-traumatizing those in our care and on our staff. It changes the question from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what’s happened to you?” Our Executive Director has presented both locally and internationally on “Trauma Informed Care in a Domestic Violence Shelter”, highlighting the work being done at Rowan House in this area, as well as a workshop on “The Importance of Self Care and the Impact of Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue”, specifically on shelter workers.

We serve a large rural area including the communities of Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Millarville, Longview, Blackie, Nanton, Vulcan, Claresholm and the surrounding areas.

Our Report to the Community: Shelter Statistics (April 2016 – March 2017)

  • 200 New admissions to our Emergency Shelter (92 women +108 children)
  • 1,343 Calls to our 24/7 Crisis Line
  • 80% of residents were first time users
  • 2,206 Total Visits to our Child Support Program (4,157 programming hours)
  • 2,131 Students (97 presentations) were reached by our preventative education team
  • 369 people were turned away (236 due to capacity + 133 for other reasons)

Our Programs

How We Do It

Our Shelter program provides a safe, supportive environment for women and children who find themselves in a crisis situation and in need of emergency housing. We have trauma-informed shelter counsellors who operate our 24-hour crisis line, provide solution-focused counselling, safety planning, and community referrals and client advocacy in a number of areas. Women often come to us with nothing but the clothes on their back. We have 24 beds and provide food and other basic necessities as families work to transition back into the community, all at no cost to them.

  • In our 2015-2016 fiscal year we admitted 97 women and 124 children.

The Outreach program is designed to address and meet the needs of women who have experienced abuse, are experiencing abuse, or are at risk of experiencing abuse, through one-on-one contact and support.  Clients need not reside at the shelter to access services from the Outreach Program.  The Outreach counsellor’s caseload is predominately women in the community who are not ready to come into the shelter, or are not in need of the housing aspect, but require services to keep themselves and their children safe from abuse.

  • 61 women and 40 children were served this past fiscal year.

Our Child Support program is operated by staff trained to work with children who have witnessed abuse and the developmental issues that may cause. The program focuses on building self-esteem and teaching children coping skills for managing anxiety.

  • We also offer moms individual sessions that help foster and strengthen the relationship mother and child have.

Our Branches Preventative Education program provides education and awareness about the cycle of abuse, as well as the effects abuse has upon families. We provide a series of free, education presentations that address family violence, teen dating violence, healthy relationships, bullying and self-esteem, as well as information about Rowan House and the services and programs offered. These presentations are offered to schools, community groups and other agencies.

  • In addition, a six-week Healthy Relationship Education group is offered free of charge to women in the community eight times a year and twice weekly for residents.

In our newly created Shelter Transition program, partnering with the Foothills Foundation and the Town of High River, we have four subsidized housing units available for our residents to rent as they leave the crisis shelter. There is currently a lack of safe, affordable transitional housing options in our area, which creates an ongoing problem for both our residents trying to leave the shelter and those waiting to get in, leading to a high number of turnaways from our emergency shelter.

  • In our last fiscal year, a total of 694 women and children had to be turned away – almost 54% due to Rowan House being at capacity. We recently concluded a feasibility study on Transitional Housing/Second Stage Housing and are working to develop a plan for expanding this program.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Rowan House Emergency Shelter relies on the generosity of individual and corporate donors as we only receive government funds for just over half of our budget. Rowan House Society must raise $800,000 for current operations and programming. This would not include any costs incurred for our new Transitional Housing Program.

Rowan House has three top priorities for the use of fundraised dollars including:

  1. Branches Preventative Education
  2. Transitional Housing
  3. Emergency Shelter Basic Client Related Operations

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss the many ways you can help bring hope to women and children fleeing family violence. Some options include financial contributions, sponsorship of our annual Hope & Healing Gala or hosting a third party fundraiser, planned giving, employee matching gifts and choosing Rowan House as your charity of choice if your company is part of the United Way Donor Choice Program. Please contact us to learn more.

  • Did you know $200 can provide the food, clothing, shelter and specialized support for one woman or child for one day at Rowan House? These services are all offered at no cost to our residents.

We also host Soup Sisters events at the Millarville Race Track -an opportunity for people to gather their friends, enjoy a nice meal and help make soup for women and children living at Rowan House or attending one of our Healthy Relationship Education Groups.

Thank you for your consideration.

Stay Connected


Sherrie Botten

Rowan House Society


Charitable Number: 899496707RR0001

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