Posted on Jan 29, 2020
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Rotarians from Edmonton Strathcona brought gifts for residents of the WINGS women’s shelter to their Christmas party

The decision by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona to make Women in Need Growing Stronger the beneficiary of its 2019 Christmas project flowed naturally from members’ discussions last year to define the focus of the club’s community service efforts. 

“Our emphasis is on women and children, so WINGS fits very nicely,” say Rotarian Audrey Martyn. “It looks like WINGS will be sticking around with us for a little while now.”

WINGS was established by the Sisters of Providence in 1986. According to its website, “At WINGS, we address the social, psychological and health issues affecting women and children, extending our programs inclusively to clients of all races, cultural and religious backgrounds.”

“It’s a two-stage housing project for women who are leaving domestic abuse,” Audrey says. “In their first-stage housing, they take people in who have just left situations of abuse. Most of the women come with children. They provide them with shelter for the first six months. They also provide counselling for the mothers and the children and they provide daycare services. 

“Then they have stage-two housing, which is after you have been there for six months. Then they place you in an apartment. Organizations and people donate things to help them furnish their apartments. The women are encouraged to go into education, because they need to find a job and move on with their life.

“They can be there for a couple of years before they are phased out. It depends on how successful they are and how much background and education they have.”

Each Christmas season, members of the Edmonton Strathcona club select a charity to support. “We have always done something with a charity that deals with homelessness or people in need in some way,” Audrey says. 

This year, the club prepared Christmas boxes for women and members purchased pyjamas for children at the centre. These were presented to WINGS director Rhonda Jansen, who made a presentation during the club’s Christmas party at University of Alberta Faculty Club.

Rotarians were asked to fill shoeboxes purchased at a dollar store with personal care items for the women. 

“We tell people to put in things like hand lotion, body lotion, lip gloss, deodorant, socks, mitts and small things, because it is only one little box. You need to get it in the box,” Audrey says.

This year, Rotarians also provided pyjamas for the approximately 100 children living at the shelter.

“People were told to wrap them in Christmas wrap and put boy or girl and the size on it,” Audrey says. “We had over 100 pyjamas and more than 60 boxes.”

Members brought the pyjamas to the Christmas party, after which Rotarians loaded them and the boxes into the WINGS director’s van.


Rotarians from Edmonton Strathcona filled a trunk with gifts for women and children at WINGS

In addition to the support they provided at Christmas, members of the Edmonton Strathcona club have donated $5,000 for the daycare facility.

Also they collected clothing for the women. 

“A bunch of us who have a professional background asked if anyone wanted to donate clothing, especially for women who are looking for jobs,” Audrey says. “Many of us are retired or semi-retired, so we don’t need as many things in our closet, or they don’t fit anymore. We collected 12 large garbage bags full of clothing.” 

One member brought in 40 purses. 

“She didn’t want everyone to know, but by the time the evening was over, everyone in the room knew that she had shown up with 40 purses,” Audrey says. “We had a laugh about that. We were like, ‘How many?’”

The Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona meets on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. at the Woodvale Facility and Golf Clubhouse, 4540-50 Street NW