FWRC planned to open soon

Members of the local Soroptimists chapter (in white shirts) join Clare Freeman, Rachael MacLean, Debra Tigchelaar and Judi Partridge at last week’s Women’s Centre meeting. Photo by Dianne Cornish • Review

Members Soroptimist join Clare Freeman, Rachael MacLean, Debra Tigchelaar and Judi Partridge at last week’s Women’s Centre meeting. Photo by Dianne Cornish • Review

Support services for women in Flamborough will soon be closer to home, with the opening of the new Flamborough Women’s Resource Centre (FWRC) in Waterdown tentatively planned for October 19.
News of the opening means many women with family issues will no longer have to travel to Hamilton or Burlington to access services that they need, as they will be available in their home community. Guests attending an information meeting at Waterdown District High School (WDHS) last Wednesday welcomed the prospect of a community-based facility that will assist women in areas such as accessing government assistance, providing parenting support for teen mothers and offering credit and legal counseling.

Community volunteer Judi Partridge, one of the founding members of the FWRC, presented sobering statistics at last week’s meeting to demonstrate the need for the centre. She noted that about 1,000 seniors live in isolated rural areas of Flamborough, where access to services is virtually non-existent. And, she said, there are more than 2,000 people in Flamborough, including 630 children, living below the poverty line.

Already lacking infrastructure to serve existing needs, Flamborough will be faced with even greater pressures when its current population of 39,000 increases by about 17,000 as projected residential development comes on stream over the next decade or so, Partridge stated.

The new centre is the product of a collaboration between volunteers in the Flamborough community, Drummond House transitional home for women and children and Interval House in Hamilton and its umbrella organization, the Hamilton Women’s Resource Centre. Partridge said the three groups have worked for two years to lay the groundwork for the Flamborough centre.

Debra Tigchelaar, executive director of Drummond House in Flamborough, has seen first-hand the need for the new centre. “We don’t have enough resources in our area to serve women’s needs,” she said, noting that legal aid for women is sorely lacking in Flamborough. The FWRC plans to partner with the Ontario government to ensure that a legal aid centre is included at the Waterdown site.

Clare Freeman, executive director of Interval House, which provides accommodation and services for women who are victims of domestic violence, also supports greater access to women’s services in Flamborough.

Pointing out that suburban and rural women are more at risk of violent crime than their urban counterparts because of their isolation, she also acknowledged that women’s needs go beyond those associated with domestic violence. She encouraged guests to let project workers know what types of services they feel are needed in Flamborough.

One vehicle being used to determine local needs is a survey available electronically to residents in the area. It can be accessed online at http://tr.im/zy8g.

The Waterdown centre will be a satellite location affiliated and supported by Interval House and its Women’s Resource Centre, both of which will provide staff, furniture and a small budget for monthly rent through existing federal government funding directed to Flamborough through the City of Hamilton.

The balance of funding must be raised locally; applications will soon be submitted to the Soroptimists women’s club, United Way and the Trillium Foundation.

Volunteers are needed to help with fundraising, office support and peer support, said Rachael MacLean, who will manage the centre and serve as senior counselor. Volunteers are also needed to serve on an advisory committee.

Partridge said community support has been overwhelming; the Carlisle Optimists offered to donate the proceeds of their spring fundraiser to the centre, and local businesses, such as Weeks Home Hardware and Boston Pizza, also offered to help out. In addition, MP David Sweet, MPP Ted McMeekin and Flamborough councillors Margaret McCarthy and Robert Pasuta boosted the centre with letters of support when an application for government funding was submitted earlier this year.

Stressing the need for community partnerships involving the centre, Partridge suggested Waterdown needs a Food Bank and it would be ideal if a suitable location could be found in town.

The women’s centre will occupy 700 square feet at 17 Main Street South. It will provide outreach, support programs and counseling, as well as connect struggling women, children and families with professional services, legal aid support and local programs.

The centre will be particularly beneficial to women in rural Flamborough, who have limited transportation and lack access to city services.

The Flamborough Women’s Resource Centre will run life skills classes and provide help with job searching as well as access to counseling, children’s services and government programs. It will also be equipped with private rooms for counselors to work with clients.

Reproduced with permission of Flamborough Review

Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night is an annual event for women all over Canada to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women and children. In Hamilton, women of great diversity in culture, age, sexuality, education and purpose met at the McMaster University Downtown Centre in Hamilton for a rally and walk through the streets. This year, it was organized by the Sexual Assault Centre, Hamilton & Area (SACHA) and held on Thursday, September 24, 2009. With noisemakers and banners in hand, police guided us down to Hess along Main and King.

WE MARCHED … as women, to symbolize our basic human right to be where we want, when we want, and how we want in a world where there is no violence against women.

By-law retreat

Thank you Barb for hosting the ad hoc by-law committee meeting at your cottage up north. We built on the momentum of the recent President’s weekend (which Barb attended on Aug 8) and reviewed Eastern Canada Region’s strategic plan for next year and information / events they want us to consider at the club level.

Very fruitful and we look forward to presenting the proposed changes in the coming months.

FCC Mini-Putt Tournament

The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce had its second annual Mini-Putt tournament on Wednesday August 19th at 5:30 pm at Rock Chapel Golf Centre on Highway #5, just west of Highway #6 in Flamborough.  The all inclusive cost of $25.00 each included golf and a ‘party on the patio’ with pizza & appetizers at Boston Pizza in Waterdown afterwards.

SI-DAF had two teams, who were featured in the FCC publication, the Bottom Line (page 9). Congratulations again to FCC Past President, Sandy Gray of Weeks Home Hardware, as ladies champion at the second annual Great Flamborough Mini Putt Challenge. Her Soroptimist Club teammates included Elizabeth Falcone, Shirley Eden and Blanca Pena. FCC Treasurer Janet Barnard and her husband Paul were joined by Soroptimists Shirley McCoy and Alice France.

Speaking at other clubs

We would like to thank the Lions Club of Waterdown for inviting our Chair of Public Relations, Brooke Gordon, to speak at their May dinner meeting.

Brooke shared information about the programs SI-DAF support including joint projects with other Lions Clubs, and the benefit of Soroptimists to our community. The Lion’s were kind enough to invite many guests to the evening, including our handout in their minutes to share with their whole membership, and also for Lion Jeannette’s donation of clothing in support of the YWCA Friends for Success program.

If you would like to learn more about local women’s projects in the Dundas-Ancaster-Flamborough community, we welcome you to contact us »

We’re growing …

Wonderful news from S.I. Eastern Canada Region – we have a new club to charter in York Region and the best news yet is our numbers now register over 300!  FYI for our newer members, we needed to get our numbers up to maintain a separate Region.  If we stayed below 300 members there was the possibility of having to join with Western Canada or even part of the northern States!

Thanks to all of our members for the wonderful job of recruiting.  Soroptimist is growing and it is a privilege to tell other women about the wonderful work we do and give them the opportunity to share in the sense of community and support we share with other women and girls.  Yes we really do rock!

Their body image really is distorted

Pick up any women’s magazine and you’ll see a model or celebrity on the cover with smooth and flawless skin, polished teeth and perfect curves. It’s hard not to look at those images and become discouraged because you feel like you’ll never “look like that”. How much worse could you feel if you were a teenager undergoing body changes and trying to “look good” for boys?

Kim Kardashian posted the before and after shots on her Web site.

Kim Kardashian posted the before and after shots on her Web site.

These models have been literally modified by the magic of “Photoshopping,” and one celebrity spoke out about what she really looks like. Kim Kardashian did a photo shoot for the April/May cover of Complex magazine. When the original picture leaked onto the Internet, she decided to post that picture on her blog next to the retouched version that was intended for the magazine. The differences are pretty significant – they took inches off of Kim’s legs (removing all cellulite), made her waist smaller (look at her arm) and brightened her skin. She writes “I’m proud of my body and my curves and this picture coming out is probably helpful for everyone to see that just because I am on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean I’m perfect.”

To draw attention to the issue of photoshopping, Dove released this video. While we all understand the magic of makeup, the modifications to her neck and eyes really speaks to the gap between perception and body image, especially among young girls:

Sadly, that message starts even earlier. Bratz Dolls are designed for girls ages 6 and up. They have an interactive website with bios for each girl (Cloe’s pose is particularly offensive »). The narrow waist, long skinny legs and oversized eyes and lips all create a distorted perception of how your body should look.

Bratz Fashion Dolls vs Barbie

Bratz Fashion Dolls and Barbie - who looks like that?

By comparison, a year ago SI-DAF was one of the sponsors for the Beautiful Women Project, created by Cheryl-Ann Webster, which is a teaching and healing tool for women and girls, men and boys. The project is a touring art exhibition of 120 clay torsos of real women, aged nineteen to ninety-one.

Plaster casts of real women. Image courtesy of Cheryl-Ann Webster, creator of the Beautiful Women Project

Image courtesy of Cheryl-Ann Webster, creator of the Beautiful Women Project

Their mission is to raise awareness about the link between self-worth, self-identity and physical appearance. Webster’s artwork is accompanied by motivational and educational presentations, workshops and resource materials suitable for a broad range of participants.

The New Goodnight Kiss

Teen girls are swapping sex for just about anything … the Globe & Mail recently covered a new documentary book and DVD called “Oral Sex, the New Goodnight Kiss”. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“By 14, she was routinely blacking out on drugs, having sex with multiple partners at her house and partying with “Navy guys.” At the start of Grade 9, she was sleeping with a 21-year-old drug dealer and heroin addict. Soon after, she was recruited to trade sex for clothes and drugs. … One prostitution ring saw more than 15 girls aged 12 to 16 from several Edmonton middle and high schools offering their bodies to older men who gambled in a townhouse; another involved 15-year-old high-school girls charging college guys $20 for oral sex in Kelowna, B.C. In Surrey, B.C., pimps recruited 12-year-olds at their local mall.” Read full article »

All of the girls I interviewed who have had sex in exchange for money, drugs or merchandise are nice girls, pretty girls from good neighborhoods – girls who could be your own daughters, nieces, sisters, friends, neighbors.

All of the girls interviewed who have had sex in exchange for money, drugs or merchandise are nice girls, pretty girls from good neighborhoods – girls who could be your own daughters, nieces, sisters, friends, neighbors.

What three of our club members had to say in response:

We need to do more to boost these girls self esteems so that they don’t need the “attention” from this kind of destructive behaviour! I am outraged that society’s standards have sunk to a new all time low at young girls expense!

A local highschool student told me about her friends who are into “sexting” – sending explicit pictures and messages via their cell phones to classmates and friends!! One of her classmates (age 17) actually lost her virginity for tickets to a basketball game.

I find it quite shocking and did not realize this was a trend with young girls in Canada. I am certainly going to share this with my kids out west, especially since I have a granddaughter.

There are three videos of interviews from the documentary (mostly girls living in BC):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z6g0kTgNxg (warning! this last one uses very graphic language)

What Soroptimist International is doing?

Soroptimist International has joined the ‘Stop the Traffik’ Global Coalition. This is a global movement against the trafficking of people. It has more than 1,000 member organisations in 50 countries & a grass roots following of ordinary activists around the world. The work undertaken by the campaign is directly related to Objective 2 in the Programme Focus 2007-2011: End human trafficking and all forms of violence against women.

In North America, SIA launched it’s first National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness on January 11, 2008. This was done in response to estimates that anywhere up to 27 million people are enslaved in forced or bonded labor, child labor, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude at any given time. For more information on trafficking, visit their resources page and download their white paper »


As many of you will already be aware, President Karzai of Afghanistan has signed a new law that is detrimental to the women of Afghanistan and in particular Shiite Muslim Women. The law has not been enforced yet but has been debated in the Afghan Parliament and signed by 249 members including 68 women.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay made a statement condemning the new law on 2 April, saying:

“This is another clear indication that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is getting worse not better. Respect for women’s rights – and human rights in general – is of paramount importance to Afghanistan’s future security and development. This law is a huge step in the wrong direction.”

Soroptimists are appalled at this intended legislation to be introduced in Afghanistan and urge President Karzai to rescind this new legislation with immediate effect. The Rights of Women are to be protected under all circumstances and this law takes away those rights and makes them prisoners and slaves to their husbands and victims of gross violations. UNHCHR details the new restrictions on Shiite women which include denying them the right to leave their homes except for ‘legitimate’ purposes; working or receiving education without their husbands’ express permission, as well as explicitly permitting marital rape.

I encourage every Soroptimist to write to their individual governments requesting that they condemn this new law that is to be introduced into Afghanistan and ask President Karzai to respect the rights of all women in Afghanistan.

Margaret Lobo
President, Soroptimist International

Swarms of angry men shouting epithets and hurling stones confronted hundreds of Afghan women who staged a rare public protest yesterday against a law that allows husbands to demand sex from their wives. Read the full article and statistics from the Globe & Mail »

It used to be a mission to give a future to little girls. Now the government is scrambling to explain why Canadian troops are fighting for an Afghanistan that legalizes rape within marriage. Read the full article from the Globe & Mail »

Today is Earth Day – how are you contributing?

What are you doing to increase your “eco-awareness”? Earth Day Hamilton kicked off their events in Westdale on Saturday April 18 (full details in the Spec article from Apr 20 »):

More than 250 Hamiltonians attended the Tim Hortons Earth Day 5 km Walk and Fun Run, which started at Bayfront park and headed to Churchill Park, where they were joined by almost 550 more people for the Sunoco Earth Day Tree Planting. All 1,300 trees provided were planted by event participants. Earth Day Hamilton will also be planting trees at one or two Hamilton schools over the next 10-14 days, as part of the Go Green Challenge.

About $6,000 was raised at the walk and tree planting, with all funds going to support the Tim Hortons Earth Day Hamilton Eco-Festival – a free event offered to children grades 4-6 in the Hamilton/Halton region. About 5,000 kids will be attending this year’s event on April 20-24 at the RBG.

Here are some ideas that you can do with your fellow SI-members:

  • Plant a tree to commemorate your friendship — the ECR Fall conference ’08 in Burlington gave each SI attendee a reusable shopping bag and evergreen seedling to plant.
  • Make a coffee cup wrap together — Instead of always grabbing a cardboard wrap for your coffee, get together and make one for yourself. Use a cardboard wrap as a pattern and cut a couple out of felt fabric. Sew the layers together and decorate it to make a personalized coffee cup wrap.
  • Grow your own vegetables — Go buy the plants/seeds together then spend the morning at her house and the afternoon at yours. Share gardening tips and enjoy the “fruits and vegetables” of your labour! And, while you’re at it, start a compost pile. See who can create the most compost, remembering that you can include paper coffee cups!
  • Have a craft day and use all recycled materials — Collage a box with magazine cut outs for a gift box. Make greeting cards using junk mail. Decorate a can or bottle for an herb flowerpot. Create unique and fun home décor, wearables or gifts made from “vintage” items. Get crafty on your own or get the kids involved. (There are lots of websites featuring recycled crafts for inspiration.)
  • Recycle some clothes — Trade outfits, swap accessories or just share some scarves. Better yet, make a donation to the YWCA of Hamilton’s Friends for Success program!
  • Get ‘eco-educated’ together — It’s much more fun to learn together. Do some research together on global warming and carbon footprints. Explore which manufacturers/retailers are eco-friendly. Check out sites on reducing waste, research Hamilton’s recycling guidelines to make sure you’re both aware. And sign up for e-subscriptions of those catalogs, magazines and bills that come in the mail!
  • Go green grocery shopping together — Go to the local farmers market and get fresh, healthy food – from nearby! For other items, buy products from earth friendly manufacturers and retailers and don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
  • Volunteer together — SI-DAF is making our city (and world!) better. Volunteer with your girlfriend on Earth Day and, if possible, on an on-going basis.