North Shore Women's Centre 40th Anniversary Fundraising Gala, Saturday, Oct. 19, 7-10 p.m. at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. $60/$55 northshorewomen.ca
For the last 40 years, the North Shore Women's Centre has played an important role in the lives of local women and the milestone is not going unnoticed by current members.
Its longevity speaks to not only the need that exists in the community, but also the generosity of local supporters in helping to keep the centre's doors open.
The North Shore Women's Centre recently held its annual general meeting and executive director Michelle Dodds was pleased to see some of the organization's founding members in attendance.
"I think that's a testament to how people in the community have stayed with the organization over the years," she says. "I think we're really fortunate to have some of those founding members still involved."
A drop-in resource centre located in Lower Lonsdale, the centre is focused on improving the social, economic and political status of women, and through its array of programming, works to empower members.
Dodds says they estimate they make 5,000-6,000 contacts with women annually and those numbers are continuing to increase.
Examples of programming and services offered include computer training, peer support and counselling, workshops, legal clinics, a library and a girls' empowerment camp.
Staff are in the second year of a new health and wellness program that's continuing to expand based on interest. In addition to the health consultations and individual holistic treatments, which form the basis of the program, they're adding a meditation class this week, and a community kitchen component in the New Year.
For Dodds, the anniversary is an important one.
"I think it's a huge milestone given how difficult it's been for especially women's organizations over the last decade," she says. "There's been a lot of changes with respect to funding structures and models of operation as well for nonprofits, but specifically for women's groups.
"So I think it's been tough and a lot of women's centres that we had as colleagues around the province actually don't exist anymore today, or they've been amalgamated
under larger, broad-based organizations. So there aren't many freestanding women's resource centres left," she says.
When asked why she feels their centre has been successful, Dodds is quick to respond, "We still struggle of course, from year to year it's always a challenge, but I think the community has been really supportive in terms of coming to events and showing their support at times when we felt that we were going to have to close."
Volunteers and staff have shown a strong degree of commitment to the organization. So too has local government, which has been extremely supportive, in particular the City of North Vancouver, in terms of providing space for them and accommodating them with grants in other ways. "Not every women's organization would have that local support from either their municipal government or their community. I think we're very fortunate in that way," says Dodds.
To mark the milestone as well as raise funds in support of its programs and services, the centre is hosting a 40th Anniversary Fundraising Gala at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, Saturday, Oct. 19 from 7 to 10 p.m. The evening will feature local wine, cheese, chocolate, a silent auction and prizes, and Dodds promises there will also be a few, "surprise artistic features over the course of the evening."
In addition to attending or making a donation to the centre, community members are encouraged to sponsor tickets for centre members who, based on their financial status, wouldn't otherwise be able to attend.
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