After the crowds of sale shoppers have torn through retailers in North America, unpacking their trove of treasures successfully brought home after yet another Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then comes GivingTuesday.
For the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, GivingTuesday on Nov. 27 is the day they launch their annual fundraiser. Last year, their 50-day fundraising campaign raised nearly $2,000 more than the $50,000 goal. Now, to keep up with cost increases and demand for services, the fundraiser lasts 55 days for $55,000, specifically for the Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic.
“This year the area of greatest need for us is our clinic,” said Carissa Ropponen, the communications manager of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. “We want to ensure that clinic will stay open, so we really wanted to focus this year on that need, especially as we’ve been receiving more requests for support.”
The clinic opened nearly three years ago, partnering with Island Health and police detachments to centralize services in a private location for the victims of sexual assault. Anyone can access the clinic 24 hours a day, all year ‘round, for the sexual assault response team, medical and forensic exams, help reporting to police, crisis support and counselling.
Before the clinic, sexual assault victims could only get immediate care from the hospitals’ emergency room or the police station.
“We weren’t reaching all of the people we could reach. For many people, a hospital or an emergency wait room is not the best option for them, and they won’t go or they might show up and leave if the wait is too long,” she said. “They’re afraid to go to the police station or are apprehensive, which is understandable after having experienced a traumatic assault.”
Since 2015, demand for service has increased by 154 per cent. The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre has been serving Greater Victoria for more than 35 years, and a sexual assault clinic has been “a dream of the centre and community” for 25 of those years, Ropponen said. But the clinic doesn’t receive core funding, and to keep the dream alive, the majority of their financial support comes from individual donations.
“As more people hear about the clinic, more people feel they can reach out for support directly after a sexual assault, we have more people calling us wanting to access the clinic,” Ropponen said. “We want to make sure that service remains available to them.”
On Nov. 27, all donations to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre — up to $2,000 — will be matched by local sponsors.
For the fifth year in Canada, GivingTuesday is a movement in response to the hordes of consumerism, with 6,000 Canadian charities, businesses and organizations asking everyone to give back.
In the Capital Regional District, more than 120 organizations are partners with GivingTuesday. In 2017, 1,650 poutines were sold for charity in Victoria.
This year, the University of Victoria also hosts its sprinkles-related fundraiser for GivingTuesday, where students give donations in return for hot chocolate (with whipped cream and sprinkles, of course!).
“The world has seen a particularly challenging year in 2017, from natural disasters to divisive global events. One way to reunite is by celebrating our shared values: empathy for the challenges of others and our desire to help those in need. Millions of simple acts of giving, all added together, amount to real impact,” reads GivingTuesday.ca.