The Victoria Women In Need Community Cooperative helped empower around 400 women in need through its most recent gift certificate program.
The organization was able to give out 532 gift certificates, totalling $39,538, to women for use at its four Women In Need retail shops around Greater Victoria through 2018.
The shops sell different donated items ranging from clothing to kids toys. Proceeds from the stores go towards five different programs — including the gift certificate program — that the cooperative runs to help women through various struggles.
Mabel Marin, a spokesperson for the organization, said women are very appreciative of having an opportunity to buy new items for themselves through the gift certificate program, especially when they are starting fresh after escaping abusive relationships or leaving transition houses.
“It empowers them to choose the items they need for themselves and their kids,” Marin said.
Women can apply for the program either directly with the organization or through its many partners like the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, Young Parents Support Network, Hulitan Family and Community Services Society and Bridges for Women Society.
“It could be anyone who needs to be in the programs,” Marin said. “It could even be you or me.”
The organization’s partners often have gift certificates on hand as well.
Marin said many women that are making use of the program are getting back on their feet and need to purchase items like new clothes for a job interview or cookware for a new home – everyday items they have been forced to leave behind.
Giving women the opportunity to choose what they need, rather than just give them items, is an important experience, she said.
The Victoria Women In Need Community Cooperative has been supporting women in Greater Victoria for over 25 years as a not-for-profit organization. It runs five different programs that help women with communication skills, developing businesses to be self-sufficient, setting up a new home after a transition house, and referring women to services they need.
Marin said many women participate in all five programs while some will only need help in a few areas.
The four retail stores are stocked with community donations said Marin, but the group can always use extra furniture.
The organization is in the process of moving from its current donation centre to a new, larger one at 555 Ardersier Road on Mar. 1.