By Sarah Bingham
Lanark County Interval House (LCIH) is extending a sincere thank you to the wonderful community members, volunteers, groups and organizations in Lanark County as well as Lanark County Council for their tremendous generosity and support during the past year. While every holiday season brings out the best in our community, this year the help provided by the community increased over past years.
These unprecedented levels of donations, funding, and volunteering were a truly timely gift given the particular challenges the shelter faced in 2012. With a higher than usual projected annual deficit as a result of increasing demand for service and ever increasing expenses while entering into the fourth year of a funding freeze, the additional support was sorely needed and deeply appreciated.
2012 was a difficult time for many. Economic hardships, job uncertainties, increased cost of utilities, food, and gas and other stressors affected so many in our community yet it is exactly these challenging times that allow our true colours to show. For LCIH staff and abused women and children in Lanark County, those true colours were a welcome sight.
The 24 hour emergency shelter is only one of many critical services provided by the LCIH. Hundreds more families are supported through Outreach Services. The Sexual Assault Support Program assists women through one of the most difficult things they will ever face. The Public Education Program is a proven essential component of preventing violence by providing much needed information about abuse and resources available in our community. The youth violence prevention project, Truth for Rural Youth (AKA TRY Lanark County) is also run by LCIH and is a crucial factor in breaking the generational cycle of abuse, educating about healthy relationships and protecting our future generations.
Each year, the shelter works diligently and tirelessly to raise the necessary funds to complement government funding in order to meet all of these demands for service. As 2012 drew to a close, your donations of time, goods and money played a vital role in providing those services to the members of our community who need your help the most.
Each donation and show of support means so much more than just its monetary value. Every event, toy drive, and discussion about donating to or supporting the shelter is a highly effective way of shedding light on an often “invisible” tragedy. Every act of charity for the shelter sends a message to abused women that they are not alone, that their community cares, and that help is out there for them. This is a potent message of hope that is critical to ending violence against women and children.
As one resident at the shelter tearfully said when receiving a donated Christmas gift, “It just feels so good to know there really are good people out there. People who care.” This is not something many abused women feel often. This is a powerfully transformative feeling. This is what happens when a community comes together in difficult times to show they care.
And the difficult times are not over. With the onset of each calendar year, LCIH staff begin raising necessary funds to meet the new years demands, launching the entire process all over again. While LCIH will continue to face many of the challenges last year presented moving into 2013, the gratitude and hopefulness inspired by the generosity and thoughtfulness of Lanark County, makes this challenge one we’re ready to face with help from the community. Again, thank you to all who gave to Lanark County Interval House.