TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Domestic violence counsellor Kim Iwasiuk, program co-ordinator Courtney Wrightson and board chair Jodi Wyman sit in the private waiting room of the Women’s Resource Centre’s new offices on Princess Avenue on Thursday. The resource centre is holding a grand opening today.
The Women’s Resource Centre is officially open for business at its new Princess Avenue location.
The centre made the move from The Town Centre to 731 Princess Ave. on May 1 and for the past four weeks staff members and volunteers have been preparing the new office for clients.
"It’s been a lot of work — a lot more work than we even anticipated, but at the same time it’s been really exciting for everyone," said board member Jodi Wyman.
The grand opening celebration is being held today from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Kim Iwasiuk, domestic violence counsellor, said she is looking forward to what’s in store for the centre at the new high-visibility location.
"It has the comfort of a living room," Iwasiuk said. "Being able to have that homey feeling and coming into a place where there’s safety and security is so important."
The Women’s Resource Centre provides counselling services for hundreds of women and children — many of whom are in crisis situations. Each month, an average of 500 women and children attend the centre for services like the daily breakfast program, domestic violence counselling, children’s counselling, free access to computers, assistance in job hunting, etc.
In March, the resource centre was given a 60-day notice to vacate The Town Centre or face a steep rent hike. The non-profit organization had been located in The Town Centre for more than a decade, paying very low rent.
The managing partner of The Town Centre at the time said it was time to bring the centre up to market rent, like the other tenants in the building.
The resource centre estimated it would be looking at paying 10 times the rent, which it couldn’t afford.
The group had to scramble to find a new location and ultimately forced to downsize. The new location is the former Westman Immigrant Services office.
Wyman anticipates a cost of $1,700 per month, which includes rent and utilities. For more than 10 years, the centre had paid about $250 per month at The Town Centre.
It has been a chaotic time for the resource centre, but staff and volunteers are relieved now that they have a new home.
"I think when we look back to where we were a month ago, where we didn’t have a location and there was such a worry and fear that maybe the Women’s Resource Centre wouldn’t exist," Iwasiuk said.
Iwasiuk said she was "positively overwhelmed" by the community support over the past several months.
"I didn’t expect it … but the community has absolutely stepped forward and we can’t thank them enough for all the work that they’ve done," she said.
The resource centre is launching its Fill Our Hope Chest capital campaign, with a goal of raising $100,000 in two years.
"That’s going to give us enough capital to pay all the bills and then get us through until we can increase the government funding long term," Wyman said.
"We’re going to be working really hard in Brandon and area over the next two years and try to hit our $100,000 target."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 25, 2012