Empowered Women. Transformed Communities.
Newsletter - June 2021

A Message from our Executive Director
Writing this on a sunny June day, with hopefulness that we have rounded a corner in the Pandemic and will be ready to embrace summer, gatherings and each other. This upcoming weekend is Father’s Day as well. A day where children, young and older, reflect and recognize the positive role fathers played in their lives.  

Sadly, it has often struck a nerve for the women and children at our My Friend’s House shelter. As many have lived in terror and risked their lives to escape a man. They are the reason we exist to protect and help create a new life for women. We often think of women as the ones who are working to end abuse and violence. We know that men have been caretakers too and want to be part of the solution. 
In our 30 years of service, we are cognizant that women have been spearheading the slow movement toward a violence-free world for women and girls. If a significant shift in the rate of gender-based violence and abuse is to be realized, men must take up the cause. 
It is men that need to have the conversations with their children about healthy relationships, confront other men about disrespectful jokes or behaviour, and support survivors to get help. Gender-based violence affects us all, whether it is directly or through our family, friends, and colleagues, and we need men to help us end the fight.

Lana Wells, who holds the Brenda Stafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence at the University of Calgary, has said that the Pandemic has opened a critical discussion. We have one glaring gap in our strategy to end domestic abuse and violence. “Not one province has a comprehensive strategy in their gender-based violence prevention plans that’s targeted to men and boys”, she says, “violence is gendered, and we know that, so when you’re thinking about going upstream, where do you want to start? You want to start with men.”
In our June Newsletter, My Friend’s House recognizes the importance of keeping men involved in our work. We shine the light on a few of the men that support the work of My Friend’s House. These men, through their support of My Friend’s House, are also advocating for change. Men who are donors, and many with the support of their wives – they are a powerful, positive team for change. 
I applaud them all and look forward to seeing many more men continue to work with My Friend’s House. This September, as you will read, many more men – old and young – will be coming out together to wear our signature Red Shoes and literally walk the talk to raise awareness and funds for our work.  
I am so excited to be part of this change and I look to the bright future we will all have –with the Pandemic in the past, and women AND men spearheading the end to abuse and violence. As a reminder of how we work together I share a photo of a young man Max – who tells us why he became a monthly donor – and wears his My Friend’s House Courage Mask proudly. 

Have a wonderful summer everyone. Stay healthy and safe.

Alison FitzGerald
Executive Director
My Friend’s House
Men Who Step Up and Provide Stability
Max is a My Friend’s House monthly donor and he is doing it for a reason. His grandmother. 

When he found out he could give $20 a month and make a difference in the lives of women who are abused, he said, "Sign me up!"

Max is 29 and like any other young man, he is just starting out in his career. He wants to share the money he makes with a cause he believes in. Being practical, he wants to give back in the best way he can. He says:

“When you have a reason to give, it’s your job to do it, to help others and make a difference.”

Champions of Courage is a monthly donor program that is easy, $20 dollars or more comes out of your account every month, and at the end of the year a tax receipt. He likes that year after year, My Friend’s House can count on monthly donations from our donors, and better plan for the future. 

Max knows that his grandmother and his dad desperately needed a better future. When his own dad was a boy, he watched his mom suffer abuse and threats. It was so hard to hear his dad tell him the story, and more so, that he tried to fight back for his mom. He can’t imagine how awful that would be for both of them, and he wants that to never ever happen to anyone again. He said, “If this donation and my support can help even one woman and her child move on, then I am going to keep giving.”
Chris has been supporting My Friend’s House for many years. He and his wife Joan have been generous donors and active supporters. He told us he wants stability for the organization and the women we work with. He has been in the Georgian Triangle for years and has chosen an organization to support that is near and dear to his heart.
Having their own children and grandchildren, they both want to support families in need.

“I saw the great need My Friend’s House has, particularly this year with the Pandemic. The numbers are growing across the region with the increase in new residents and the effects of fear, stress and isolation. We have many more women in crisis and many more experiencing violence.”

He knows that the way to keep the doors open, staff welcoming, counselling programs and transition to a new life happening, is to ensure My Friend’s House has donors they can count on. 

“I have joined Champion’s Circle, a 3-year commitment to giving that builds a solid foundation. I encourage everyone to consider this new initiative. We are giving $15,000 a year each year for 3 years to help the organization to have funding they can base today and next year’s critical programs on.”

We thank Max and Chris for their support of My Friend’s House and for sharing 2 wonderful ways to give back now and help us to build for the future.
Join My Friend’s House Red Shoe Walk September 2021 and Help Us End Violence against Women and Children

This September, My Friend’s House is holding our annual Red Shoe Walk Fundraising and Awareness Event. Pump up the support and join us to end violence against women and children.

Participants can walk anytime during the month of September. By Stepping out with a pair of red heels on and walking for My Friend’s House, you show your commitment to supporting our work.

My Friend’s House’s goal is to attract more than 100 men as participants to walk in solidarity for women and children. However, we welcome everyone who wants to join in and raise funds and awareness.

Encourage your friends, colleagues, and family members to sign up. Then put your red shoes on and walk proudly in your neighbourhoods, parks or workspaces – anywhere you choose – to show your support.

Once you’ve signed up, My Friend’s House will book your walk with you, help you to create your own fundraising page, provide your red heels and cheer you on.

It’s easy to sign up and start fundraising, register online at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/my-friends-house-collingwood-crisis-centre/p2p/redshoewalk2021

For more information, please contact Event and Volunteer Manager, Julie LeBlanc at: fundraisingmanager@myfriendshouse.ca or Red Shoes Chair, Cam Ubell at: cam@iwaspa.com
Red Shoe Walk Dream Team Asks You
 to Walk the Talk!
Cam Ubell, a Collingwood Resident, is My Friend’s House official Red Shoes Chair. He wears his Red Shoes with pride as he wants all men (traditionally men but we welcome everyone who wants to raise awareness and dollars) to support My Friend’s House.

“I will be out there, asking for sponsors and participants ensuring that My Friend’s House has as many supporters as we can get. It is the only way we can end violence.”

Red Shoes are a symbol that we must step forward to say Stop. â€śIt is our responsibility to start the conversation that women should never suffer abuse. If you don’t think this is happening in your town, it is – you need to face reality. And you need to do something, you need to speak up.”
Words and fists have power, but so do feet. And when you walk in the signature My Friend’s House Red Shoes, you know your feet are saying we all need to go the distance, no matter how challenging it is (in heels no less) to show we mean business. And not just for women but for their children and yours too.

“Many of us have children too and we need to talk to them. Respect and non-violence is what we can instill in them. It is also our responsibility to bring up girls and boys who know this is unacceptable.”
Nicky Raymer has a long history with My Friend’s House as a volunteer and donor. She is the official Red Shoe Woman – and will be fitting the participants with the right size and moving the shoes from town to town as people sign up. Over the years she has watched her husband Rick and friends strut their stuff in their own Red Shoe walk in Wasaga Beach and have a blast.

“It can be uncomfortable to walk at first but think of why you are doing it, everyone I know has a good time, raise much needed funds and feel great after they’ve walked in the shoes. And of course, that it’s going to a good cause. 

I hope there are lots of new participants that keep the money flowing. So many creative ways to do the walk and I am happy to help."

Her own experience with past abuse, has helped build lifelong passion and dedication to My Friend’s House and the work we do. â€śMost people can’t fathom that abuse happens to any woman, and it does. I know. With the help of My Friend’s House, women and their children can find safety, heal, regain their power and begin a life free from violence.”

What do Nicky and her husband Rick wish for the future – that there is no reason for a Women’s Shelter ever again. That abuse and violence are no more. Until then, she says we will continue to support the Shelter and hopes you will too. 
Have a fabulous summer and don't forget to join My Friend's House Family!