Jodi Boyd (far left) joins some of the Campbell River Women’s Centre staff and volunteers following a Volunteer Appreciation Lunch this week.

Women’s Centre empowers and helps women grow

When she thinks about the people who shaped her career, Jodi Boyd, the new executive director of the Campbell River Women’s Centre, thinks about a group of strong women who believed in her.

One of her first jobs was at a women’s centre in Yellowknife.

“As a young single parent myself, I used the services of a women’s centre and at the time, the executive director saw some value in me and believed in me,” she said. “I was offered a job and worked in an administrative role. I soon left and ended up working for a female lawyer, which led to the government, where my supervisors were women, and finally took me where I am today. All of these women believed in me, employed me and educated me by putting me through college and finally university — all by correspondence. Without each and every one of them, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today.”

And now, Boyd is looking forward to helping and empowering women in her community in her new role.

Boyd, who is originally from Campbell River and is returning after spending 24 years in the north, started working at the Campbell River Women’s Centre (CRWC) in mid-March.

Boyd’s background is in administrative management and she most recently spent four years living and working in the Yukon. She is looking forward to being involved in the community in which she lives and to building more relationships with the other agencies that provide similar services in the community and in the North Island.

One of Boyd’s main goals in her new job is to work towards some major fundraising to support a move for the women’s centre.

“Our current offices are much too small for our services,” she said. “We would also like to make people more aware of who we are and what services we provide to our women.”

As well, Boyd hopes to “empower our women at all ages, in collaboration with our other groups and similar services within the North Island, all while building capacity within our community.”

“What I enjoy about this role is watching our women be empowered,” she said. “They have an opportunity to grow, we have an opportunity to mentor and it’s a fantastic place to be.”

The CRWC has 18 volunteer staff, six direct staff members and a board of directors of five. The centre helps women who have low incomes or who have had to flee a bad situation and have nothing with them by providing hygiene products, secondhand clothing, bedding and blankets, winter coats, clothing for job interviews and much more.

As well, women coming into the centre can receive emotional support, help filling out forms and referrals to places they can go.

“If we don’t know, we try to find out for them,” said Linda Schulz, the centre’s drop-in co-ordinator. “We do that because if you leave an abusive relationship and you don’t know anything and you’re sent from here to there by people, there are a lot of barriers. The doctor might send you this place and then that’s not the right place, and they send you someplace else; it can go on and on and that starts to feel like just too much; it makes people want to give up. So here, we can tell you where to go; we know the resources in town. Whatever needs to be done, we try to do it, and if we can’t, we refer them to where they can.”

The centre also offers the Bridges employment readiness program, which is sponsored by Bridges for Women Victoria, the North Island Employment Foundations Society (NIEFS) and the Government of Canada.

“What makes it different from other employment programs is it recognizes that women that have been in abusive relationships or suffered addictions or abuse, they have trauma and that can be a barrier for them to keep working,” said Schulz. “They may have a lot of failures at work because they’ve been triggered or they have a night where they have terrible nightmares and they can’t make it in, so this employment program talks about those traumas and normalizes them for people and gives them strategies on how to work through them so they’re not failing at work or school.”

There is also crisis or supportive counselling at the centre, which Schulz calls “emotional first aid.”

“We keep people OK until they can get to a professional,” she said.

The CRWC also provides computers for people to look for jobs or housing, which is an incentive through NIEFS. They run workshops that give women a chance to work on their self-esteem or an opportunity to be creative, for example, and the centre hosts events such as an upcoming Beauty Day in May where women can get a haircut or facial.

The Women’s Centre also works with other agencies and takes part in a lot of awareness events such as International Women’s Day or The Clothesline Project, which is coming up April 19 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Spirit Square as part of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week.

The Campbell River Women’s Centre is open to the public Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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