AG House Highlight!!

January 18, 2021

Since 1998, NOW Canada Society has grown substantially and had the opportunity to impact many women in our community. None of this would have been possible without the help of many generous donors, volunteers and staff throughout the years. As a way to try and express our incredible gratitude, each month we will be highlighting some of our programs, donors, staff and volunteers.

This first month of January it seemed appropriate to highlight those most affected by the chaos of 2020: the staff and clients of our emergency shelter, The Alexandra Gardner Women and Children Safe Centre, or AG house as it is known.

When it comes to front line work, it’s easy to become overwhelmed focusing on the incredible challenges that 2020 amplified. These ranged from having to reduce capacity in a time of great need, to developing new safety protocols in response to rapidly developing information. However, it’s important to look at the positive impact and stories of hope that are happening despite a world full of chaos and challenges. To write this, I visited AG house for my first time this week. I don’t think I can do it justice in a couple of paragraphs, but I will do my best to describe some of what makes it so valuable and unique.

My first impressions were that it is a place where clients can express themselves in safety. There is a sense of home and comfort. The house was reminiscent of walking into the living room of a very large family; everybody is busy, but there is still enough peace that a client is able to be reading a book on one of the couches.

AG House is led by a team not only dedicated to providing quality care, but also to creating an environment with joy and the ability to have fun amidst life’s hardest challenges. I asked some of the staff to tell me why they choose to work there, I was met with responses about the rewards of seeing clients experience small successes and make little choices that are impacting their future. They described the excitement of seeing someone get housed for the first time, and talked about the relationships that they are building and the trust that follows.

It would be incomplete not to mention some of the ways that Covid-19 impacted the shelter last year. There were obvious challenges, but I want to focus on how the staff has seen some positive impact: Medical appointments were more accessible and streamlined to client’s schedules through the use of zoom and phone calls; clients struggling with addiction had easier access to safe supplies; more clients had continuous stays; Covid-19 safety protocol was established resulting in zero cases so far in the shelter; additionally, there were generous donations over the holidays that really helped make Christmas special.

It’s difficult to describe the magnitude to which AG house is needed in our community, or to properly express gratitude to the individuals dedicating their time to filling that need. The shelter is always operating at maximum capacity and the staff are constantly adapting to fill the most urgent need, this effort deserves much more recognition than this post can give, but we want to say the biggest thank you that we can to everyone making AG house so special!