June 4, 2015 12:51 pm
Updated: June 4, 2015 8:26 pm

Shield of Athena launches campaign to fill ‘gaps left by government funding’

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WATCH: For 24 years, Montreal’s Shield of Athena offers a safe haven to families seeking refuge from domestic violence — and it still needs our help. Elysia Bryan-Baynes has more.

MONTREAL — Supporters of the Shield of Athena gathered at the Baton Rouge downtown for the charity’s membership drive Wednesday.

“We use the money to fill in the gaps left by government funding,” executive director Melpa Kamateros explained.

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For 24 years, the Shield of Athena has offered a safe haven to families seeking refuge from the scourge of domestic violence and some 800 women use the Shield of Athena’s services every year.

Sixteen languages are spoken by social workers and support staff in their efforts to guide women and their families to safety.

“Every night 4,000 women and children escape a domestic violence situation in this country. Every night,” longtime supporter Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau told Global News.

READ MOREWhy Canada still has a long way to go in tackling domestic abuse

“It takes a huge economic toll and a huge spiritual toll and emotional toll on our society to have these families be vulnerable and displaced and in need of a safe place.”

Former Montreal Canadiens player, Chris Nilan was also in Wednesday night’s crowd.

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Nilan has made it his mission to get more men involed with trying to prevent domestic violence.

“It is never okay to lay a hand on a woman,” was Nilan’s message to those who harm their families.

As for his message for men who want to see change?

“Men, they can make a difference by helping to raise money and by speaking out against the things we see, not just in this city but across the country.”

The Shield of Athena already has Athena House, a long-term shelter for families trying to get back on their feet.

The charity hopes to have a second 18 room home up and running by the year 2016.

To find out more about the Shield of Athena and to become a member, click here [pdf].

© 2015 Shaw Media

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