At this time, there are many people and issues that require immediate attention. Charities have adjusted the way they operate on a daily basis and many have had to make significant shifts to fulfill their particular missions. Unfortunately, many charities may not weather this storm.
Our intention with this series is to share updates from a spectrum of charitable organizations to garner attention and inspire support for those in need.
Charity name: WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre
Core purpose and mandate: WAVAW’s mandate is to provide free-of-charge, wrap-around support services to survivors of sexual assault. We offer victim services, hospital, court, and police accompaniments, immediate emotional support on our 24-hour, nationwide Crisis Line, and individual and group counseling.
In addition to the provision of direct services that develop resilience and coping skills following the trauma of sexualized violence, we advocate for social and systemic change through education, outreach, and activism.
Our vision is a world where people of all genders are valued and live free from sexualized violence.
How is your organization impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
As an organization that provides direct services, WAVAW has had to move quickly to leverage technology and adapt our resources to offer as many of our services as possible over phone and video platforms. In the face of COVID-19, our victim services workers, sexual assault counselors and Indigenous program staff are still providing one-to-one services while working remotely; including immediate emotional support on our 24-hour, nation-wide Crisis and Information Line, Victim Services including support navigating the criminal justice system and one-to-one counseling. In accordance with the social distancing protocol, our support groups at WAVAW and our partner locations have been postponed, resulting in a loss of connection for many of our marginalized clients.
Our hospital accompaniment program at Vancouver General Hospital has been suspended. We are cognizant now, more than ever, of the community need for a WAVAW Integrated Medical Clinic in order to provide survivors who have been sexually assaulted with critical support and examinations outside of the institutionalized medical system. We are hyperaware that for survivors of sexualized violence, dealing with isolation can exacerbate trauma responses, and can increase anxiety and depression. We are currently supporting survivors who are in isolation with their abusers, survivors who have to hide their gender identity from unsupportive family members while in quarantine, and survivors who are experiencing diminished community connection. The need for WAVAW’s support services is more urgent than ever.
How have your fundraising plans changed?
Here at WAVAW, we have been concerned about our community of supporters, our partners, our clients, and our staff due to both COVID-19, and the economic fallout that it is leaving in its wake. Like most non-profits, we are already feeling the impacts on our organization, and are preparing for the reality that our donations will continue to diminish in the coming months, and years, due to the economic turndown of COVID-19. Currently, we are facing the loss of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. This half-marathon and 5k event is the cornerstone of WAVAW’s largest annual fundraising campaign, raising $70,000 in critical unrestricted funds each year. As WAVAW receives no core funding from any level of government, these funds are critical in
keeping our doors open and sustaining the resources required for service delivery.
We are currently working on a mitigation strategy that will allow our community to be “WAVAW Champions” despite not crossing any finish lines and in order to ensure that our community of dedicated supporters are still able to step up for WAVAW’s essential services and peer-to-peer fundraise despite there not being an actual race to participate in.
If there is one story or message you would like to share with our community, what would it
We often say that survivors cannot heal in isolation; and that connection is the cornerstone of healing. While the realities of COVID-19 mean that we are unable to offer direct services in person, not connecting with survivors who are deeply impacted by COVID-19 is not an option. Our frontline staff members are working full-time to ensure that the more than 450 survivors currently accessing our services, and close to 200 more on our counseling waitlist, are able to connect with the supports they need when they need them.
Our message is that WAVAW’s services are still operating – but we cannot support survivors alone. Now, more than ever, community connection is critical for survivors. Supporting WAVAW means supporting services that are essential to helping our community, and its most vulnerable members survive this pandemic.
How can one support your organization most effectively?
Gifts of unrestricted funds are the gifts that we will feel the impact of most deeply. We are also dedicated to leveraging these funds (if desirable by the funder) to increase their scope through matching campaigns. In addition, community members becoming monthly donors will allow for WAVAW to plan for the future and continue to navigate the unfolding economic repercussions of COVD-19.
Those who are unable to make a financial contribution are invited to share our social media content, sign up for our newsletter, become a WAVAW champion (more information to follow on this peer-to-peer fundraising initiative) and inspire philanthropy in those with means.
Can donations be transferred electronically? If so, how?
Donations can be made online at https://www.wavaw.ca/individual-donor/ where donors will have a tax receipt emailed to them immediately. WAVAW would be pleased to provide invoices to corporations or business entities that wish to make a gift.
If you are interested in learning more about WAVAW listen to our recent podcast with Dalya Israel, Executive Director of WAVAW Rape Crisis Center here.