Red heels mean helping a good cause

Women in distress in the Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Millet and Maskwacis areas have a great resource that helps keep them safe and secure...

Camrose Women’s Shelter executive director Nora-Lee Rear

Women in distress in the Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Millet and Maskwacis areas have a great resource that helps keep them safe and secure. But sometimes those resources need some help too.

The Camrose Women’s Shelter, which offers accommodation and support for women and children in abusive or violent situations, relies on grants and donations to offer their valuable services. To raise funds, the shelter is organizing a “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” event during the Big Valley Jamboree later this month.

“Walk a Mile in her Shoes” involves men who step forward, to show support for women and children in abusive situations, to collect pledges, then literally walk 1.6 km in a set of ruby-red high heels to see things from a different perspective.

A visit to the shelter in Camrose clearly shows the benefits this organization offers to women from this region. Also visiting was Riseup Society of Alberta executive director Jacqueline Biollo from Leduc.

Camrose Women’s Shelter executive director Nora-Lee Rear gave out-of-town guests a tour of the shelter July 7. The shelter is very careful about photography; a woman at the shelter could be in physical danger, and published photos could give an attacker the information needed to find her. Also, the shelter is not identified in any way on its exterior.

Ground floor

The shelter’s ground floor has the crisis intervention workers who are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The crisis workers make assessments and also offer help with jobs, education and more. There is no fee for service at the shelter. However, intake depends on occupancy, so Rear said calling ahead is helpful for screening and preparation.

Women can stay at the shelter for up to 21 days, and extensions are possible. The ground floor also has a kitchen, playroom, dining room and living room.

“It’s a delicate balance between being almost an institution and a home,” said Rear.

Second floor

The shelter’s second floor holds 22 beds in a number of bedrooms plus communal bathrooms. Rear said the average age of clients is difficult to pin down, although two general ages seem familiar. She said one demographic seems to be a young woman in her early 20’s, the second an older woman between the ages of 45 and 55.

Rear noted the shelter has no ability to handle clients with addiction issues. “We have a zero tolerance,” said Rear.

The shelter’s outreach program is located on the second floor. The worker can help with the search for housing, often a major job for a woman who has been married her entire life. Outreach also includes education in the community, and the worker also maintains relationships with other agencies. In addition, the outreach worker can also meet one-on-one with clients.

Lower level

The lower level of the shelter holds the pantry, serenity room where clients can get some quiet time, donations room, TV room, licensed childcare and a Gr. 1 to 9 school, which is staffed by a teacher provided by Battle River School Division. Some of the programs offered include early literacy, yoga, crafts and pet therapy and the shelter even has a partnership with a hair salon.

Pipestone Flyer editor Stu Salkeld is participating in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to raise money for the Camrose Women’s Shelter. The walk will be held July 28 in Camrose, as part of the opening of this year’s Big Valley Jamboree. Rear noted that proceeds from this year’s event will be used to provide a new roof for the shelter.

If you would like to sponsor the editor, drop by the newspaper office on Hwy #2A in Millet. Donations of $20 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.