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Local group offering course to help women find services they need

Andrew Philips, Special to the Packet

From left: North Simcoe Victim Crisis Services executive director Frances Yarbrough, Couchiching Jubilee House executive director Akosua Atta-Mensah, Green Haven Shelter for Women executive director Liz Westcott, Orillia Public Library CEO Suzanne Campbell and North Simcoe Victim Crisis Services SupportLink co-ordinator Linda White hope a new program brings positive results for area women. ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES

From left: North Simcoe Victim Crisis Services executive director Frances Yarbrough, Couchiching Jubilee House executive director Akosua Atta-Mensah, Green Haven Shelter for Women executive director Liz Westcott, Orillia Public Library CEO Suzanne Campbell and North Simcoe Victim Crisis Services SupportLink co-ordinator Linda White hope a new program brings positive results for area women. ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES

City leaders charged with helping women deal with some of life’s greatest challenges hope a new program creates better links between agencies and their prospective clientele.

Dubbed Community Connections “Life with Resources,” Couchiching Jubilee House’s free, 12-week program begins Wednesday and runs from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Orillia Public Library.

“This will be ongoing where women will be able to plug in each week to a different agency,” Jubilee House program co-ordinator Cassaundra Whetham said. “We’re trying to meet the needs in the community.”

Whetham said The Sharing Place food bank, Green Haven Shelter for Women and Athena’s Sexual Assault Counselling and Advocacy Centre are just a few of the groups on board to outline what their organizations do and how participants can benefit by becoming involved with them.

“It allows women to come together each week and really connect,” Whetham said. “We will have an incentive for women who complete all 12 weeks.”

Whetham said while the program is open to all women, she expects it to appeal most to those ages 18 to their early 40s.

“A the end of each workshop, participants will receive a certificate,” she said. “There will also be applications available to sign up for our programs and the participating agencies.”

Green Haven executive director Liz Westcott said the program will help women who may be on the wait lists with various organizations.

“This is a really practical way to ensure women have good access to what’s available to them,” she said.

Couchiching Jubilee House is a program designed to help women who are homeless or at risk of being homeless improve their lives and achieve their dreams by aiming to make women self-sufficient, its website states.

It provides support to women facing challenges including abuse, poverty, illness, job loss, broken relationships and isolation. The organization also operates a transitional house with four self-contained, fully furnished apartments and has been “home” to 76 women and 91 children as of spring.

Its executive director, Akosua Atta-Mensah, said the new program doesn’t solve the issues of homelessness among women but offers a definitive support link.

“These women are looking for information about what is available to help them,” Atta-Mensah said. “Every year, we have 60 people who inquire about our spaces. The question is always: What do we do with the women who definitely need help?”

For more information about Couchiching Jubilee House, visit jubileehouse.ca. 


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