The recently formed Chestermere Women’s Crisis Society (CWCS) has seen success since it started last September, accepting calls for support and liaising with local authorities and organizations to help protect women and girls impacted by domestic violence.
Since its launch six months ago, the society has helped more than two-dozen women through its intake process and many others who just needed some advice or a listening ear, according to CWCS representatives.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster [since we launched] which we totally anticipated,” said Morgan Matheson, president of the CWCS. “It picked up in the very beginning and we kind of levelled off in November and although we anticipated it, we really took off during the holiday season.”
She added more than half of their total intake occurred during the month of December and early January, which was anticipated because of increasing rates of domestic violence during the holiday season.
“People were home from work or maybe enjoying the festivities... there’s just so many things that cultivate to happen and we receive the majority of our calls [during this time],” Matheson shared.
CWCS, Chestermere’s first women’s shelter, was formed via a partnership between Michelle Young and fellow Matheson, who serve as vice-president and president of the society, respectively.
According to Matheson, the society is partnering with local organizations for its upcoming Energizer Night, an open house for residents to learn about various camps, organizations, and services in the lakeside community by browsing brochures, speaking with coordinators, and asking important questions.
The event, hosted twice a year (once in the fall and again in the spring), will be held on Wednesday, March 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Chestermere Recreation Centre, and is an opportunity for families to learn more about upcoming spring and summer offerings in the community.
“Different vendors that are available here in Chestermere get together for a public night, so the community and the public can come in and see what is in and around here and what we have to offer,” explained Matheson.
She added two days after the society’s launch last September, they attended the fall Energizer Night, adding the new organization was very well received by the community.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to go being the new kids and a lot of people tend to think we [don’t need] a crisis society or understand we need one,” she shared. “So we were a little bit nervous and green, but it was very well received.
“Lots of people had come up to our table and were interested in volunteering and signed up and were taking brochures.”
For the upcoming spring Energizer Night, Matheson said the CWCS has been working “hand-in-hand" with the Chestermere RCMP and the Strathmore Regional Victim Services team to set up tables next to one another.
“We work so closely together that it just made sense for us that we would all kind of be in a row together,” she explained.
The president shared getting out into the community and making connections with Chestermerians and those from southeast Rocky View County is very important to get their message out and to help those in need.
“We do post a lot on social media, but not everybody is on social media, so it’s super important that we’re out there showing our camaraderie with the RCMP and Victims Services... that we do all work together and alongside each other,” she said.
She added it is also important to have their face out in public for all ages and backgrounds to come up and ask questions or take information for themselves or someone they know.
“We’ve had that before... someone concerned about a neighbour. We also have really discreet business cards they might be able to pass along and give to someone that may need some help,” Matheson explained. “We’ve also had doctor’s offices and chiropractors' offices... they’re really on the front lines and they’ve come up and [taken] a handful of pamphlets to keep in their office.”
“So, it’s really important that we’re out in the community and that people know who we are and that we are available to help.”
Additionally, Matheson volunteers are integral to the society’s success over the last six months and are greatly appreciated. She said the CWCS is always on the lookout for more volunteers and offers free training and various volunteer opportunities.
“There are different levels available for volunteering and it’s whatever they’re comfortable with,” she shared. “And if it is client engaging then we do offer that training.
“We’re always looking for volunteers and we’ve been pretty fortunate with the volunteers here so far.”