Halton Women’s Place is set to expand programs and renovate the Burlington space thanks to a $400,000 donation from Grace Lutheran Church in Oakville.
The church closed its doors recently, selling the land and donating funds to several charities.
“We are so grateful because of the significant difference that a donation of this magnitude can have at Halton Women’s Place,” executive director Laurie Hepburn said. “It’s going toward our critical programs and services, as well as our ability to expand.”
The shelter in Milton was renovated last year to include private bathrooms, as opposed to the communal bathrooms that were being used for years, thanks to a grant from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Those changes are now expected to come to the Burlington shelter in the near future.
More private spaces mean more safe spaces for those in the shelter.
“Not only is that coming from a trauma informed lens, when you’re producing space to women who ar where with their children,” Hepburn said. “We try to make them feel as safe as we can both emotionally and physically. During the pandemic, that was a huge problem due to infection prevention control measures.”
Halton Women’s Place is planning to invest some of the money in sustainable solutions, long term supports, and prevention programs. That includes going into high schools to talk about consent, ending violence against women, and healthy friendships.
Between 2022 and 2023, 136 women and children were served in a Halton Women’s Place shelter, and more than 2,100 phone calls were made to the crisis, information, and support line. During that time, Halto police received 3,488 intimate partner violence calls, and made 969 intimate partner violence arrests.
Hepburn added that getting recognition from a church in Oakville was notable for Halton Women’s Place, which has shelters in two cities in Halton – but not Oakville.
“We know because we have locations in Burlington and Milton we have a bit more of a presence,” Hepburn said. “We are really trying to make sure we’re reaching all of Halton. It’s a huge area, but it’s nice to see that our reach is spanning across Halton.”
Though the donation is mostly going to be used for the Burlington branch, Hepburn expects the news of the donation could send ripples through the community.
“This is an issue that has been hidden for a very long time,” Hepburn said. “When someone sees the church gave that, it’s going to give some women the courage to step forward and talk about what’s happening because they see that support.”
Church administrators are also going to be involved in decisions for how the money will be used. There is no timeline yet on when the money will be spent.