It can sometimes be difficult to wrap your head around YWCA Hamilton’s true impact on the community. Through our day-to-day work, we serve thousands of women and gender-diverse people, and we strive to make life better for anyone who uses our programs and services. But in the hustle and bustle of our everyday schedules, I find that it can sometimes be difficult to take a step back and truly absorb the deep and momentous impact of our work here at YWCA Hamilton.
But there are some moments when the true magnitude of our work hits me. We serve our community in so many different ways – sometimes in small ways that make someone’s day, and sometimes in ways that genuinely save someone’s life. And, throughout the past 18 months, we have continued to create these positive waves of change while grappling with a worldwide pandemic.
That’s why I’m so pleased to unveil our 2020-2021 Impact Report. This particular Impact Report is a special one, as it represents the challenges and successes we experienced as we adapted to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Reviewing this report is a very emotional experience – it’s truly mind-blowing to see what we accomplished, how we evolved, and how we continued to provide outreach and support to so many people in the community, despite facing increased risks to our own health and safety.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s Impact Report:
- We not only maintained but enhanced our essential services across three critical departments including Developmental Services, Child Care and Housing;
- We moved a number of our services online, including Health and Wellness classes, Family Access, Children’s activities, seniors programming;
- We welcomed speqtrum, Hamilton’s only service geared specifically to Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ youth, into our umbrella of services;
- We received a $6.4 million investment by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario to train women in high-skill sectors;
- We became a founding member of Hamilton is Home, an alliance of non-profit housing providers who pledged to build 3,000 units of affordable housing in the next three years;
- We continued construction at the new Putman Family YWCA to provide purpose-built spaces inspired by the community, along with 50 units of permanent affordable housing for women and women-led families;
- We began the work to do a full organizational review that has allowed us to both reflect on our colonial roots and also address how to better serve Indigenous, Black and racialized people communities and staff.
We also provided 57,245 meals to women accessing our programs, offered more than 1,650 showers through Carole Anne’s Place, and provided 7,595 overnight emergency stays for women experiencing homelessness – a 150% increase over last year.
These are more than just static facts and figures – they are a representation of the lives we’ve changed; the individuals we’ve lifted up; and most importantly, the incredible amount of hard work from each and every one of our YWCA Hamilton Staff. I am beyond proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, even under the most difficult of circumstances. I’d like to extend a huge thanks to all of our staff for everything you have done to contribute to these successes.
I’d like to encourage you all to read the report for yourselves – you can find it here – and to take a moment to truly absorb everything that we’ve been able to accomplish together. We are making an impact here in Hamilton and beyond, and as always, I am so grateful to all of our hardworking staff.
Until next time, stay safe, and take care of one another.
CEO, YWCA Hamilton