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Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey is commemorating 30 years of service by acknowledging all those who played a part in the development and evolution the agency.
Women’s House wouldn’t exist today without the tenacity of the steering committee and original Board members, who had a vision and were able to execute it despite tremendous barriers and hurdles. This self-organized group advanced their agenda throughout the early 1980’s.
Karon Courage-Eaid was part of the original steering committee and a founding member of the Board of Directors. “I was part of a very dedicated group of individuals who knew there was a need for a women’s shelter in Kincardine,” said Courage-Eaid. “My involvement came as a result of a friend, who was in an abusive relationship at the time and asked me to attend one of the first meetings being held at the local church.” Little did everyone know, this was the beginning of a lengthy and at times difficult process, which would last six to seven years.
Courage-Eaid and others had many questions that would need answers before the safe shelter for women and children could exist. Where would the shelter be located? Would it be built new, or would they purchase an existing building? Did the town of Kincardine even want the shelter?
She explained, “Our committee had to work hard to educate the public on the need for an emergency shelter. We participated in many speaking engagements to bring light to the subject of domestic violence and explain the importance of women and children having a safe place to go, if needed. While there was quite a bit of resistance in the beginning, the information-sharing events helped people in the community to understand the need for the shelter in Kincardine.”
When deciding on a location for the shelter, the ideal building was listed for sale. It had already been used as a residence and came partially furnished. The property was purchased, and the location and original building remain the same 30 years later, albeit with many changes and improvements along the way.
Courage-Eaid spoke of her involvement on the original steering committee and board with fond memories, but also spoke of the long and difficult process to get to the point of having an operational shelter. She spoke of feeling burnt out by the time the shelter was open, but that it was also a time for much celebration as their vision had finally come to fruition.
Pauline Whelan was also one of the original members of the Women’s House Board of Directors, taking part for four years both on the original steering committee and the Board. Whelan was asked by another member to join the Board, and stated that it was a “huge learning experience” where she and the other members worked endless hours to get Women’s House up and running.
Whelan held the position of Secretary while on the Board, and had a large role in documenting minutes and other important information. "It was an exhausting experience,” she said, “but it was also very rewarding to see Women’s House open after years of effort by the original steering committee.”
The current Board of Directors and Staff, in conjunction with the women and children served, extend their deepest gratitude to those who had the courage to take a stand against violence against women at a time when their message was not always well received. Without their efforts and tenacity, Women’s House would not exist today.
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Tuesday, July 05, 2016