SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Patti MacAhonic works with Ann Davis to assist women involved in abusive situations
NEW WOMEN'S CENTRE
nn Davis Transition Society (ADTS) is extremely appreciative to BC Housing and pleased to announce that they are providing funding to open a permanent 10 bedroom, specialized transition house for women who are fleeing violence, at risk of violence or homelessness.
Also, a big thank-you to community member Leo Vanderhoek who approached Ann Davis Society Executive Director, Patti MacAhonic with the offer to buy his already zoned property to help make a difference for women.
This is a perfect fit for the good work that ADTS continues to do in our community for over the past 38 years as a registered charity. The Women’s Centre which it will be known as plans to be officially open by September 30th after renovations are completed.
"The road to get here has been extremely difficult," Ms. MacAhonic explains, "the combination of unaffordable housing timed with the closing down of homeless camps in October and November what we were seeing firsthand was women of all ages and backgrounds put into horrific situations."
"When women are homeless they become prey to predators where they are raped, beaten and robbed on our streets. When the camps closed it pushed young women who had not been in the sex trade into survival sex trade and when I left work at night there were young and older senior women who had nothing and nowhere to go crying, in terror and there was nowhere to send them." Patti further shared "I have used my own credit card to house them when they couldn't get a bed in the hospital and I didn't think they would survive the night, but I'm not a wealthy woman and could not keep doing that."
Ms. MacAhonic was so disheartened she put in a call to BC Housing and said: "We don't know what to do, women out here need help — we are the help and we can't help them, this is an untenable situation.”
BC Housing rose to the occasion and came to Chilliwack where together they toured the camps with staff and talked first-hand to women. Within the week ADTS had the funding for a safe space for women. Chilliwack residents may remember on December 5th when ADTS had the funding, gathered support from 22 organizations and First Nations’ Communities and went to the city to get a "temporary use" permit for a building on five corners, the council voted unanimously to turn this down, leaving women on the streets over Christmas. The building is still sitting empty.
ADTS were approached after a well-written news story about this by The Progress through a community member with an offer of a short-term lease and have been using a temporary house and in 3 months has housed 75 women safely with no complaints and employed over 14 women in the community with full-time jobs.
MacAhonic further shares, "this service is critically needed in our community and although we are extremely pleased, this is a short term solution and we need to work further on getting permanent second stage housing for both women and children in our community where 40% of our homeless are women."
ADTS President Rhonda Dyck states that, "Women come to us broken from the abuse they've endured. Healing from abuse takes time, support and rebuilding of trust and healthy relationships. I would like to acknowledge our Executive Director, Patti MacAhonic's stewardship over the past five years which has been characterized by innovative ideas, strategic thinking and her tireless efforts to increase the visibility and credibility of the organization allowing us to expand our service to meet the real needs of the most vulnerable in the community."
She has built a growing talented team of diverse and committed staff inside the organization enhancing the quality and impact of our services, improving the financial stability and effective relationships with our partners so that we can take on needed projects such as this,” says Dyck.
Ms. MacAhonic states that this is truly a 'together we can' situation it does take a community to make change, our board, staff, community partners and stakeholders. “Unfortunately, there’s no shortage or women who need our support. Human trafficking is also a problem for us here in Chilliwack; women are being sexually exploited for the income of others and need a safe place to get away.
The new Women's Centre will be a specialized transition house for single women and will receive funding for 10 beds and offers emergency and transitional services, legal assistance, family reunification and counselling.
We receive more than 1,300 crisis calls each year. Right now, staff are also dealing with an increase in the number of women fleeing human trafficking in the area as well as the housing that isn't affordable.
“Our services are broad, we see over 5,000 persons per year and we do it with very little,” said MacAhonic. “Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of women and children who need our support. We also work with all family members — including men on prevention at our admin office on Young Rd.
Last year in BC, more than 12,300 women and children were assisted by provincially funded transition houses, second-stage housing and safe homes."
This year, the Province is providing approximately $34.6 million to support more than 830 spaces in transition and safehouses as well as second-stage housing throughout B.C.
Ann Davis Transition Society provides education, prevention, and support services to those affected by abuse or violence. Our vision is to see communities free of violence and abuse.
For more information contact:
Patti MacAhonic, Executive Director
via e-mail here
or call 604 792 2760 ext 203.
Visit ADTS' website here.
Connect on Facebook here.
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