In a press release Monday, the Saskatoon YWCA said the money, donated by Bonnie Gitzel and her family, is going to its Turning Points program, a transitional housing program for women.
Gitzel wrote in the release about her family’s past with domestic violence. She was the youngest of three and said her mother endured a marriage “fraught with physical and sexual abuse, poverty and alcoholism.”
“Mom escaped — literally running away with us in the middle of the night — with absolutely nothing,” Gitzel wrote.
She wrote about her mother’s struggles, especially in the 1960s, during a time when divorce was frowned upon and child support was “extremely rare.”
“And so we lived: a single mom, raising three kids on social assistance and trying to find work with a Grade 8 education,” she wrote.
Despite their struggles, Gitzel said her mother and sister encouraged her to become the first woman in her family to attend and graduate high school, then university with degrees in English and social work.
She worked for a time in La Loche, she wrote, where she said she met women “who desperately wanted a better future for their families but struggled endlessly with issues far beyond their control and with little or no support.”
Now, for International Women’s Day, she said it was important for her to give back, dedicating her donation to her mother and sister who she said shielded her from many hardships.
“I only wish the YWCA services had been available to them,” she wrote.
Saskatoon YWCA said this money will help with services and keeping its program running.
“It is so necessary to empower these women, to empower our community to see the potential that they need,” explained director of development and engagement Carla Delgado.
“They just need somebody to help them get to that next step in their story in their life to be able to continue unassisted.”
Delgado said the money will go toward things like counselling services, parenting classes and initiatives to help women in the program find employment and their own housing.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
Are you or someone you know experiencing abuse? Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of support services in your area.
Women, trans and non-binary people can find an additional list of resources here.