Frequently Asked Questions
1) Is the YWCA of Calgary the same organization as the YMCA in Calgary?
The YWCA of Calgary is not the same organization as the YMCA in Calgary and the two organizations are not affiliated in any way. Both the YMCA and the YWCA were started in Calgary about the same time, but we offer very different services. The YMCA is predominantly a recreation-based organization with facilities all over the city. In contrast, the YWCA's work is clearly focused on domestic violence prevention, homelessness and poverty reduction, community-based supports to children and families, and health and wellness programs.
2) Why does Alberta have the highest rates of domestic violence?
It’s a complicated answer. Part of it reflects how we value family, what we teach children when they are young, and the socialization of boys and girls and their roles in society. It hinges on respect.
In Alberta we have high rates of family break-down and high rates of alcohol abuse; we therefore suffer from high stress in a market that is either a boom or bust economy. Within both economic situations we see peak demands for services. According to the most recent numbers by Statistics Canada, Alberta continues to be the third highest province when it comes to reporting domestic violence.
3) Does domestic violence increase during a recession?
Yes. The severity of cases in Calgary is greater than we have ever seen in 16 years. We have seen children who are being burned. We have women who are losing their babies because their partners punched them in their stomachs. There are other women who need reconstructive surgery and whose faces need to be rebuilt. You cannot imagine the kind of desperate situations we are seeing and the severity of those situations. There are waiting lists at both our emergency shelter and transitional housing facility. Other agencies that do similar work to ours are in a similar situation.
4) How can I help?
Donate! Support the families in desperate need and help break the cycle. Talk about it first, and then ask others to help.
5) Does YWCA of Calgary collaborate with other organizations?
Yes! The YWCA of Calgary is partnered with well over 20 other not-for-profit organizations in Alberta. Ongoing collaborations include relationships with Calgary Homeless Foundation, HomeFront, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and the Calgary Board of Education to name a few. We also work collaboratively with other local emergency shelters on research, advocacy and the delivery of services.
6) How does the “Christian” aspect fit into the YWCA?
It’s part of our acronym; it’s part of our history. There is no longer any religious connotation or requirement to our work and/or services. We are a multicultural, multi-denominational organization for both our clients and staff and we value our diversity.
7) What is the average length of stay at the YWCA of Calgary's sheltering facility? Is it long enough to realistically enact the necessary life changes?
The maximum length of stay is 21 days at our emergency shelter, YWCA Sheriff King Home, due to Alberta provincial funding regulations. Twenty-one days at the shelter facility is not long enough. Ideally, we would like to be in a position where our counsellors decide the appropriate time to move clients out. However, there just are not enough shelter beds and we are bound by the government's restrictions.
8) How many clients return to the shelter and why?
In 2009, 77 per cent of the women who called the YWCA Sheriff King Home requesting space were turned away (1,050 out of 1,361 women). The number one reason a woman returns to the YWCA Sheriff King Home is because of a lack of affordable housing. If we had sufficient financial support, it would be easier to break the cycle. An investment in YWCA of Calgary programs and facilities can result in cost savings to other services such as the police or EMS by avoiding the call to the police, or by not using a hospital bed or ambulance in extreme times of need etc.
9) How do we educate the public about the need and the work of the YWCA of Calgary?
To help educate the public about the need for and the work of the YWCA of Calgary, we hold and participate in many community events which respond to the issues in the community, as well as participate in and respond to current news articles. YWCA of Calgary staff, board, corporate and community partners participate in media inquiries, speak at events and United Way functions, as well as connect and collaborate with other charitable service organizations. Through media and events like, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and Keep A Roof Over Their Heads, we bring awareness to Calgarians and continually update and educate them in the reality and necessity of the work we do.
10) Do schools in Calgary currently educate children about healthy family lifestyles in areas of risk?
The YWCA of Calgary operates an early intervention group counselling program for children in five elementary schools in the Calgary area. In addition, the YWCA Home & School Support programs offer in-home, school and community-based support, and early intervention services to school-aged children and their families. The focus of these programs is to provide support, education and interventions that assist families in coping and managing with issues of poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, family functioning problems and child mental health issues.
11) Why does the YWCA of Calgary no longer accept donations of used clothing and household items for women starting over?
Most donated materials are not appropriate for our clients and difficult to administer. It is actually better to provide a monetary donation to the YWCA of Calgary as we know the exact needs of our clients at any given time and we can purchase what they require. The YWCA of Calgary also works with other service organizations to assist women and their families as needed.
12) Who is affected by domestic violence?
Domestic violence is not exclusive to one socio-economic class. It crosses all ethnic, religious and economic boundaries. We know up to 80% of aboriginal women have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes. In 2009, 41 per cent of the women who came to the YWCA Sheriff King Home were of aboriginal background and 29% of women were from a visible minority background.
13) Where does your funding go? How much government funding does the YWCA of Calgary receive? What are the annual needs for fund development?
The bulk of our $16-17 million annual budget is salary-related, because it takes people to help people. We have 330 dedicated staff across the organization, many of whom work for less than for-profit market rates. It is not a well-paid industry.
14) How many employees work at the YWCA of Calgary? How many volunteers?
There are currently 330 employees working at the YWCA of Calgary and nearly 376 volunteers who contributed 376 hours in 2009.
15) What events can I attend to support the YWCA of Calgary?
YWCA of Calgary's signature fundraising events are RBC Keep a Roof Over Their Heads and Walk A Mile In Her Shoes.
However, many individuals, corporations and organizations have partnered with the YWCA of Calgary as a charity of choice and hold special events in support of our facilities and programs. If you know of a group of people or an organization interested in participating or if you are participating at events which have not picked a charity, you can say, “We would love this initiative to support the YWCA of Calgary and women and children in need.” You can also ask them to call Katharine Ray, Donor Relations Coordinator at 403. 292.7343 or e-mail her at email@example.com
16) How closely is the YWCA of Calgary linked to other YWCAs in Canada and across the globe?
The YWCA operates in 130 countries worldwide, so we are part of a much larger family. Twenty-five million women and children around the world benefit from the work we do. The YWCA of Calgary is also one of the 33 member organizations that are affiliated with YWCA Canada.
17) What is the YWCA of Calgary's position on affordable, accessible, universal child care?
Child care is a national platform for YWCA; we are committed to the fact it needs to be affordable and accessible, and that quality child care is available for every woman who needs it, regardless of her income. This is a significant barrier to the independence of women, to women participating as contributing members in our community, and for them finding and keeping a job. Quality child care should not be restricted to only those who can afford it.
18) Does the YWCA of Calgary only serve women? Why?
No. Our primary audience is women and children, but we also serve men, so we are not exclusive to one gender. We serve all family members but we start with the woman. We serve men in various areas of the organization, including in our skills training program, in men's domestic violence counselling programs, and of course boys, across the whole organization. We do not provide housing for men, but we do provide counselling and training for them.
19) What is the Vermilion Energy/YWCA Skills Training Centre?
The Vermilion Energy/YWCA Skills Training Centre has a goal to provide our students with jobs that are careers, not simply minimum wage positions. We are always looking for partners who can provide career opportunities, and training and skills development that will move women out of poverty. A primary objective of the program is to get women beyond the living wage or poverty line which the Province of Alberta classifies as between $12,000-$13,000 a year. One of our goals for the program is to grow the number of trainees accepted into the program and to ensure its future sustainability.
20) What programs are currently offered by the YWCA of Calgary?
The YWCA of Calgary provides services in four key areas: domestic violence prevention, homelessness and poverty reduction, child and family services, and health and wellness. Services include, but are not limited to, the following: emergency shelters; transitional housing; child and family intervention; individual and group domestic violence counselling for children and adults; parenting programs; outreach programs; community-based youth support programs; English as a Second Language (ESL) programs; skills training and career development opportunities; health, wellness and fitness instruction, and subsidy programs to name just a few.
Forty-six per cent of our funding comes from the government. However, it is highly restrictive and unavailable for other priority needs if a situation arises. We also have to apply for funding on an annual basis and never know if we will receive what we ask for and require. This makes long-term planning extremely difficult.