Welcome to the Ann Davis Transition Society’s (ADTS) new Women’s Centre.
And while the road to get here has been long, and not without its challenges, those behind Chilliwack’s newest transition house say it’s all been worth it.
“This house is really going to help those who need help,” said Patti MacAhonic, executive director of ADTS.
“Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of women and children who need our support,” she continued. “Forty per cent of the city’s homeless are female: we have the highest ratio of displaced women in the province … and women are hidden homeless.”
Tucked inside a quiet residential neighbourhood “with great neighbours,” MacAhonic said everyone who stays at the ADTS’s new house will be surrounded by the services they need to overcome their individual challenges. “We’re all so different and (the women we help) is such a diverse group.”
Created as a specialized transition house for single women, MacAhonic says the Centre will offer both emergency and transitional services, legal assistance, personal growth opportunities, and family reunification and counselling.
“We receive more than 1,300 crisis calls each year,” she continued. And right now ADTS staff are also dealing with an increase in the number of women attempting to navigate “the rental crisis in our province,” or who are fleeing human trafficking in the area.
“Women come to us broken from the abuse they’ve endured,” added ADTS president, Rhona Dyck. “Healing from abuse takes time, support and rebuilding of trust and healthy relationships.”
Which is where the ADTS comes in.
For nearly 40 years now, the Ann Davis Transition Society has been working with the community to help women and mothers with children who are in need. First came the safe house for those fleeing violence, and from there, the ADTS has grown into one of the region’s leading, full-spectrum counselling services for women, children, youth, men, couples and families at risk of abuse or violence. They also have a thrift store and a satellite office in Hope.
And now they have the Women’s Centre.
With room for 10 beds, the nine-bedroom, three-floor house also has a covered deck, a large backyard with a gazebo, a kitchen, three full bathrooms, laundry facilities, storage, and separate space for employees, who will work in shifts to provide around the clock staffing.
And the opening of the Centre couldn’t come a moment too soon: the temporary winter shelter the ADTS operated this year closes its doors when the Women’s Centre opens its. However, during the temporary shelter’s short tenure, MacAhonic says they were able to help 135 women in need. Women like Jay Todd.
“I never thought I would be in the position to need something like this,” said Todd as she recalled her life from five years earlier at the Women Centre’s opening.
“But they told me, ‘We’ve got a place for you,’ and they made me feel welcome and safe and loved.”
“Our services are broad, we see over 7,000 persons per year and we do it with very little (resources at our disposal),” MacAhonic said.
However, “we realize this is a collective effort (that) requires the cooperation and the sensitivity of every single community member,” which is why the ADTS was pleased to work in tangent with BC Housing and various community partners to secure the project’s funding.
“Our many supporters have made a real difference in helping to make this happen, and for that we are extremely thankful,” said MacAhonic.
“We’re all sisters—we work together and that’s how we make change. We don’t judge, we just step up and do what’s needed.”
For more information about the Ann Davis Transition Society and their services, please visit their website, AnnDavis.org, or call 604-792-2760.