Shelters forced to fundraise

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The David and Patricia Morton Family Foundation, of Peterborough, have once again come forward with a generous donation to the County of Haliburton’s only emergency shelter for women and children. 

The YWCA Peterborough Haliburton announced Dec. 9 that the Mortons had donated $50,000 towards the Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace (HERS). To date, the Mortons have donated $130,000 to the local shelter.

 Without them, it’s possible the shelter could be closed, or, at the very least, have seen its services scaled back – particularly during the COVID pandemic. 

As a community, we cannot thank the Mortons enough for their generosity. 

However, we should also be concerned, if not outraged, that the viability of the County’s only shelter for abused women and their children, has to rely on private donors to ensure its doors stay open and its services remain intact – especially at a time when the pressures of COVID are sending more and more rural and remote women in its direction. 

The shelter has been full since January 2021. YWCA Peterborough Haliburton executive director Kim Dolan says the pandemic has created a toxic combination of increased stress, isolation and job losses that are leading to a dramatic rise in violence. 

It’s especially true for rural women, who aren’t physically close to the OPP station in Minden, and may have trouble getting to safety due to a lack of transportation and other services. We’re told that Haliburton County women are reporting abuse that is far more serious and complex throughout this pandemic.

 Naturally, then, the YWCA is facing heightened demand and increasing costs. It’s a small program that is staffed 24/7 when they are occupied, which they always are these days. It’s very expensive to run. Government funding covers just a portion of what they do so they’re left to fundraise anywhere from 25-30 per cent of what they need for the program.

It might even be higher under COVID. That simply isn’t good enough. 

There is something incredibly wrong in Ontario when the provincial government can announce $3 million in funding for the Grey Cup and yet women’s shelters are at risk of closing or scaling back their services due to a lack of financial support.

 Shame on you, MPP Laurie Scott.

 If closed, it would create a horrible scenario for these women. Not only would they be forced to flee their homes, but they would have to leave their community.

 That means the support of family and friends. It could mean the loss of a job.

 And if they have children, it means taking them out of their school environments – perhaps the only place they feel safe. Even with the Mortons and other donations, it is difficult as they cannot meet the demand. When they’re full, they’re full.

 They can’t bring women and children in. They have to provide outreach as best they can, on safety planning, and helping women and children to get to the next best safest place that they can come up with.

 We expect the provincial government to take action. In the meantime, despite so many competing demands for charitable dollars in this County, we implore people to consider HERS. Women and children need access to the shelter, nutritious food, basic necessities and 24-hour support. 

Members of the public who wish to donate or find ways of supporting YWCA services in Haliburton County are encouraged to visit ywcahaliburton.org or contact Ria Nicholson at 705-743-3526 x113 or rnicholson@ywcapeterborough.org. Donations made before Dec. 31 will be doubled during the YWCA’s holiday season matching gift campaign. If you, or someone you know, needs support, contact the YWCA’s 24-Hour Support & Crisis Line: toll free 1-800-461- 7656; phone 705-286-6442 or text 705-854