Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region (WCSWR) provides several services that address domestic violence in our community.
Over the 2021-2022 period, WCSWR provided safe shelter to over 400 people between their two shelters, Anselma House and Haven House. During the same year, 2,074 people used their outreach services and they supported over 4,000 people through their helpline.
In 2023, the WCSWR launched the Moving Forward Scholarship, an expansion of the Moving Forward fund with funding from the Community Foundation of Waterloo Region.
The scholarship was created after the organization realized that there were many barriers women faced when trying to move on after experiencing domestic violence.
Jennifer Hutton, CEO of WCSWR, gave the example of a service user who was waiting for affordable housing, but have had arrears on their utility bill preventing them from getting on their waitlist for subsidized housing.
Such barriers may seem small, but could have much larger consequences for people experiencing them.
“We wanted to remove those barriers,” Hutton said.
“Sometimes it might mean setting up a home post-shelter, like they might need a fridge or stove, that kind of thing,” Hutton said.
So far, the program has awarded five current and past clients of WCSWR scholarships of $500 to assist with the cost of returning to school.
“The applications and the stories that we got were truly amazing,” said Hutton.
WCSWR partnered with the local ice cream company UDDERLY Ridiculous to raise money for the scholarships. They run the Wreck the Dress fundraiser, where people can interact with animals on a farm and have photos taken.
“It was a survivor that runs [a local business] and she started an event for us called Wreck the Dress…[and]funds that came back to us that we directly used to fund our scholarship program,” Hutton said.
The program started small with a call out to staff to promote the program to interested service users.
However, WCSWR is hoping to grow the program and is partnering with other organizations to create more programs to support survivors of domestic violence.
For more information, visit the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region website.