The Morden Activity Centre was packed with 125 people on March 2 for the fourth annual Power of the Purse fundraiser.
Put on by the Morden Area Foundation, the event offers women a chance to bring $100 and listen to three presentations from local organizations. Once the presentations are complete, the participants can choose which organization(s) to donate their money to.
Morden Area Foundation executive director Lynda Lambert said they had been hoping to reach 125 people to celebrate the 25th anniversary of MAF last year. The event has been growing in popularity since its inception four years ago.
“The first year it was pulling teeth to get 75 to take part, never mind show up,” Lambert said. “It was funny, after it was so bitterly cold, right after that when it warmed up that’s when almost all the tickets sold. All the sudden everybody wanted to get their tickets and get out.”
Lambert said she had people phoning the day before the event wondering if she still had space available.
“It’s a good program,” she said. “Nobody’s telling them where to put their money, nobody’s telling them what to do. These charities feel comfortable… they get to come and enjoy with the women.”
The Winkler-Morden chapter of Habitat for Humanity was seeking donations to go toward their Morden build.
Habitat just started back up in the area in 2017 and has already acquired two lots, one in Winkler and one in Morden. They have chosen a family in Winkler and are hoping to get that house built this year, but are still seeking funding for their Morden house.
“It’s amazing in one year what we’ve been able to accomplish,” secretary Christina Falk said. “People are very into this. I think they realize that it’s a model that works and that really is preventative. It helps families so they can actually move forward and it’s a permanent change.”
Habitat must secure all funding for the home before they can start building, which is why chairperson for fundraising Sue Nelson said it’s important for Habitat to be spreading the word about their organization.
“It will be about the community,” she said. “If the community thinks this is an important thing and takes hold of it and is willing to come and help, every little piece of help and volunteering will make the project work.”
“It really does have to be a community project,” she added. “It’s not just a big group of businesses coming in and providing the money and doing the build, it’s about a grassroots sort of effect and having everybody involved that we can get involved.”
10 to 15 per cent of families in the area will never be able to afford their own home, and 12 per cent spend more than 50 per cent of their earnings on housing.
The way the program works, all mortgage payments a family makes toward their home go right back into Habitat for Humanity, enabling them to build the next house.
“It goes on and on,” Falk said. “A one-time gift will be used for years, and possibly generations.”
“It’s the best way to pay it forward,” Nelson added.
Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care Centre was looking for $5,500 to develop a support group called Steps in Hope (Healing Our Pregnancy Experiences). The program would support women who have been impacted by loss or miscarriage.
PVPCC executive director Linda Marek said Power of the Purse was a great opportunity to be a part of. “There’s always great programs to help women, children, different projects and initiatives,” she said. “We’re grateful to be part of it. We believe we have a meaningful program to offer to women in our region… we think those are important connections and healing steps that they could take.”
PVPCC saw 115 people pass through their doors last year. 15 to 25 per cent of confirmed pregnancies can end in miscarriages.
During PVPCC’s presentation, Marek asked if anyone in the audience had either had or knew someone who had a miscarriage. “The vast majority of women put up their hands,” Marek said. “I can only assume that women in this room themselves have experienced a miscarriage, so we know it impacts. We know it can linger, so our hope is from this women would spread the word.”
The money from Power of the Purse would go toward developing the program and producing resources like pamphlets and advertising. PVPCC would also offer childcare during the sessions, which costs money.
Once the program is developed, PVPCC hopes to host their first session in the fall and make Steps in Hope an annual event.
The third organization at the Power of the Purse was Genesis House, seeking $4,500 for their Caring Dads program.
The program will centre around conflict management for men, attempting to break men out of the cycle of abuse and offering men a chance to hold each other and themselves accountable.
Genesis House executive director Angela Braun said historically women’s shelters will focus on the women and children affected. “What we’ve recognized is that we are not seeing any changes in our statistics,” she said. “We’re seeing the same number of women, we’re seeing the same number of kids, the same needs. It’s kind of like recycling, we’re seeing the same thing and no change in statistics.”
Children of domestic violence are three times more likely to repeat the cycle, and are 74 per cent more likely to commit an act of violence.
Braun said the provinces that have been implementing these interventions for men have been seeing significant changes in re-offending.
“If men have been part of a Caring Dads program or a program of intervention of some type… that will make a huge shift for them as far as if they choose to re-offend.”
Braun said people have often asked her, “What about the men?” This program hopes to answer that.
The program will allow men a voluntary chance to come and work on their issues. “We’re trying to figure out whether if we build it, would men come?” Braun said. “If men have the opportunity to understand and address some of the issues that they have around resolving conflicts, around anger, would they take it?”
Braun said the exposure was great for the organization. “Because we don’t have a storefront it’s always fun for us to get out in front of a group of people and share the type of work that we do and what we see as up and coming needs,” she said.
Totals from the Power of the Purse are still being tallied.