Throughout this unprecedented time, we will continue to work hard to keep our clients and staff healthy and safe by adhering to all government directives and to the health measures provided by Alberta Health Services. This includes both at the shelters and at the business office where we have increased our vigilance on cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces many times throughout the day, ensuring that physical distances of two meters are adhered to at all times, and no longer allowing outside visitors or external services enter any of the buildings.

At each shelter we have also provided our clients with clear instructions and information on how they can keep themselves and their children healthy during the pandemic and have developed new protocols for food service (cooking and clean-up), child care, and other programs and services our clients need to settle in and start the journey towards living an abuse-free life.

At the business office, we are no longer able to accept donations of in-kind items that we rely on to provide our clients with the basic needs they require daily. This includes no longer being able to take in clothing, hygiene products, baby items, and so much more that we distribute to our shelters when they need them. We just cannot take the chance of allowing the virus to spread through physical contact with our wonderful donors through drop-offs or pick-ups, regardless of much we may need them.

For the short-term, we can sustain the stockpile of these types of donations that we already have stored at the shelters and office but not indefinitely. As time goes on, and if the pandemic and order to shelter-in-place continues, these supplies will begin to deplete, and our clients will be left with very little of items they need.

In addition, the ability to provide healthy and nourishing meals and snacks to our clients and their children will begin to suffer because of food companies and grocery stores potentially having to limit how much people will be able to buy if the supply chain comes to a halt.

So, to think and act proactively and prepare for the sincere possibility that we will run out of supplies, food and necessities, we have developed a fund to help mitigate and supplement our needs and the needs of our clients.

The WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund will be used for purchasing all the times noted above when we need to at a time when accepting any of them as in-kind donations is out of the question. As well, the COVID 19 Relief Fund will be there to provide immediate funds for the many other foreseen and unforeseen needs of the future.

Below are a few examples of what the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund and your cash donation will help provide over the next weeks and months. It is not an exhaustive list as we are learning daily of new needs that arise but for now, we hope it provides you with some context as to what we need today and what we are preparing to need tomorrow…

Clothing

• Clothing for women including jeans, tights, sweat pants, T-shirts, tops, sweaters, coats, bras, underwear, socks, pajamas, etc.
• Clothing for babies and toddlers including onesies, pajamas, pants, tops, socks, boot(ies), coats, mitts, hats, scarves, snowsuits, shorts, runners, etc.
• Clothing for children 3-10 including pants, tops, leotards, pajamas, shoes, boots, winter jackets, sweaters, snow pants, flip-flops, shorts, runners, etc.
• Clothing for tweens and teenagers (boys and girls up to age 18) includes jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, underwear, socks, jackets, runners, etc.

It is not uncommon for a mother and her children to show up at WIN House with nothing but the proverbial ‘clothes on their backs’, no money, no identification, and no idea what will happen next. So, being able to provide fresh clothing for her and her kids just after they arrive can often mean the difference between her feeling completely lost and alone to her feeling cared for by others in this confusing and scary time.

Due to the government restrictions related to the pandemic WIN House is no longer able to accept donated in-kind items such as clothing. We have our WIN House ‘boutique’ still available and semi-full for our clients to select clothes from but in case that runs out the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund will help us purchase a few of the necessities needed for our clients and her children to have on hand – at least a change of clothes, clean underwear and some PJs.

Hygiene

• Hygiene items including sanitary napkins, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, unscented body soap, tooth brush, toothpaste, brush, etc.
• Ongoing baby needs include diapers (mostly size 5 and 6), baby wipes, unscented baby wash, bottles, nursing tools, etc.
• Other fabric needs such as fresh and clean towels (hand/face/body), sheets, pillow cases, dish towels, blankets, quilts, etc.

Everyone deserves to feel like they are clean. Everyone. For a woman and her children coming into shelter – be it day or in the middle of the night – we welcome her in and provide her with everything she and her kids need to start and finish their days.

For many of us, being able to just grab the deodorant or shampoo whenever we need to is usually no big deal. But, to a mother with three kids who ran for their lives and have absolutely nothing on their person when they show up at WIN House, being able to take a shower, brush their teeth and face the world is monumental and one of their first steps towards feeling like they deserve to be here.

Because these items are basic needs, we will need to make sure our stockpile of everything our clients need, and we can manage is kept up.

With the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund it can be. If we start to run out of these vital products, we will be able to use cash to purchase more and maintain what our clients need every single day.

Food

• Food for the clients in shelter (three meals a day plus snacks and beverages) including frozen, non-perishable, and fresh.

The WIN House Healthy Meals Program ensures that every woman and child in our three shelters are provided with nutritious and healthy meals, snacks and beverages.

Considering allergies, cultural needs and plain old picky kids, we don’t want to have to scrimp on quality. And quality costs. We spend approximately $100,000 a year to provide the almost 900 women and children living in our three shelters with the food they deserve so that an empty belly is just one less thing to worry about.

With the pandemic, the opportunity to purchase what the shelter needs may become even more compromised than it is today. We don’t know what will eventually happen to the trucking industry, the closing of stores and the depletion of products that we have now. The WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund will help us purchase what we need, when we need it for as long as it is available (either in-person or online).

Medical Supplies

• Medical supplies (Advil/Tylenol, humidifier, etc.), emergency prescription-filling, extra nursing hours from our registered nurse, and more.
• Upkeep on supplies to fight COVID 19 including sanitation products, cleaning equipment, PPEs, rubber gloves, medical masks, bleach, etc.

Education

• Providing educational tools and programs for the school-aged children in shelter.

Regardless of what is going on at home, kids deserve to continue their right to an education. In ‘normal’ times, our childcare staff transport our school-aged WIN Kids to and from a confidentially located classroom in conjunction with the EPSB.

Due to the pandemic and fears or transmission, schools have been shut down and families have been encouraged to home-school their children through viable programs offered by the school board. If necessary, the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund would ensure our WIN kids have the tools and resources they need to keep up their studies and maintain a semblance of ‘normal’ in an anything but normal time.

Outreach

• Potential to help those clients who do find safe housing with damage deposits, first month rent, food gift card, etc.

For a woman to move forward in her journey to safety, health and happiness, she may need a hand-up every now and then. Whether needing extra support beyond shelter or for those not willing or able to come into shelter but need help and guidance, our Outreach Program works with these clients to help maintain their safety and wellbeing. If we can help remove an unforeseen financial barrier such as helping pay for medication for their sick child, assisting with the damage deposit of a safe new apartment, helping pay for a work visa, or purchasing diapers for them, we want to do it.

The WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund would allow for each shelter to provide emergency funding to clients who need it and have nowhere else to turn. By continuing being able to provide a hand-up to those clients who face such unforeseen barriers, we are helping them take one step closer to an abuse-free life.

Transportation Costs

• Helping clients with transportation costs due to the decreased ability to use public transit.
• Maintaining the transportation, insurance and maintenance costs of our WIN House vans.

For most WIN House clients, access to a vehicle was taken away the second they left home. Therefore, the ability to be mobile to search for housing, appear in court, see a doctor, meet with necessary social services and even look for work can be extremely limited. Providing transportation funds to our clients while in shelter is paramount to helping them remain independent to live an abuse-free life.

However, with the pandemic, public transportation has been eliminated and/or become limited which in turn, forces our clients to cancel appointments and miss out on vital meetings to help them move forward. Since our clients still need to get where they need to go, we would be able to continue to provide this need by enlisting the use of vetted cab companies through funds raised with the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund.

WIN House Staffing

• Increase in need for emergency staff should we begin to fall short due to staff illness, self-isolation, maternity leave, etc.
• Increasing the number of outreach workers to help provide clients outside of shelter with additional programs and services as they arise and to aid those clients who are isolating and/or are not able to leave the abusive situation.
• Training for any additional staff as needed.

Currently, our amazing staff are managing daily operations in each of the shelters even though there are a handful (so far) of staff who are not able to work due to the pandemic. They are all stepping up and doing what they can to keep our clients’ and their children’s wellbeing and health and safety their top priorities. They are cooking meals, helping the housecleaners with the increased sanitation chores, helping with education, programming, childcare…you name it. They have all come together for the greater good – as they always have and always do.

However, due to the pandemic and the ever-changing rules and regulations placed on organizations and individuals alike to help stop the spread of the virus, there may come a time soon where we will need extra help. Maybe because staff have fallen sick, a family member needs them to start self-isolating, or they simply cannot do another double shift until they catch some sleep – whatever the future reasons may be, we need to be prepared to call in some additional supports.

With the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund and your donations, our ability to hire, train and support new temporary employees, and continue to ensure our existing staff members stay well, we will be able to continue providing our clients with everything they need and deserve while in shelter with us.

Operational Costs

• Upkeep on daily supplies such as laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, cloths, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
• Potential need for software/hardware technology and electronic needs for staff to continue working remotely or updates in the shelters’ systems, etc.
• ‘Keeping the lights on’ in all four buildings and making sure our organizational and operational bills are paid.
• Any supplementary and unforeseen costs related to operations, client safety and wellbeing, additional or revised programming, services, and staffing as they arise.

As with other non-profit organizations that rely on signature, external and third-party events to help supplement the deficit in their annual budgets, WIN House too relies on many activities to bring in funds necessary to keep operating.

With an ever-increasing annual budget of approximately $4.5 – $5M with a deficit of approximately $1.5M, the realization that we need to find a way to recover at least some of this cost is imperative.

Because we recently made the decisions to cancel our 30th Annual Win FORE WIN Golf Tournament and postpone both our 5th Annual Under the Umbrella Gala and the casino event we were allotted by AGLC for this year, the lost revenue we expect will be significant.

In addition, many of our ongoing third-party events hosted by members and corporations in the community are being canceled or postponed, revenue and awareness we generate through that has substantially lessened over the past few weeks and is expected to continue for a while.

And, while we are already coming up with viable ideas for new events we can activate virtually, through social media or into the beginning of 2021 to replace them, and applying for new grants to help offset/supplement the budget, we still anticipate being short in some respects.

With donations made to the WIN House COVID 19 Relief Fund, we would be able to ensure that any extra/unforeseen costs related to operational needs could be covered – at least to some small degree. Regardless of a pandemic, lights need to stay on, and bills need to be paid and we will do our best to meet that need but may just need a little help.