Making a Difference at Mother's Day
Alora believes that every mother deserves the best.
The day started bright and early at Swizzlesticks Salon where Bri and her team treated the women to hair and make up at the Kensignton location in Calgary.
The latter half of the day was spent at Craft Beer Market on 10th Avenue where the women were served tasty appetizers and drinks. They were joined by some influential and inspirational women in Calgary to discuss how we can all make Calgary a better place for all.
Why host a brunch?
We wanted to make sure that other women in our community could enjoy a great day that their family may not be able to afford. It was a way to show them that there are people in the community who care and want to include them in a great day!
Why invite influential/inspirational women?
Too many times discussions about homelessness or poverty reduction are taking place without those affected at the table. Many times, the people at the centre of the situation are invisible to those who are creating the solutions.
We know at Alora that the best way to make change is to involve the people who can benefit from the change. We have seen through our jewelry making workshops that the women who we teach aren't aware that there are so many opportunities when they have the right skills or know the right people.
Conversely, the some women we do business with aren't fully aware of the struggles of the women at the YWCA and Mustard Seed or the lack of resources available to them.
This brunch was an opportunity to have two groups who don't typically meet in the same room, and talk about how to make Calgary a better place for all.
We were lucky enough to have female founders, CEOs and Presidents of great organizations like Fashion Forward, Mosaic Marketing, Calgary READS, and Swizzlesticks attend.
What's the current state of poverty in our city?
The consensus was that there were too many people in Calgary that need help; some needing more help than others. A lot of people are struggling and one of the reasons is the need for opportunity and employment. People want to be able to pay their rent and feel their family on their own.
A lady who was a guest at the Mustard Seed mentioned that "the programs that are being shut down are very helpful." She went on to say that the government resources that were once allocated to poverty reduction are becoming less and less.
Has your experience in Calgary been like?
We shared how long each of us had been in Calgary and where we had come from. Many of us had been in the city for over 10 years and a few of us were born here!
Here are a few quotes about how the women viewed the city and their interactions with the organizations that help them
Calgary gives me peace and I have started a new life with the help of the Mustard Seed.
I don't like Calgary. There is help out there, but there needs to be more.
I've dealt with a lot of discrimination in the past, but organizations like the YWCA and the Mustard Seed don't discriminate.
What are the most pressing issues related to women in poverty?
The main issues raised were domestic violence and lack of employment and networking opportunities.
We were lucky to have Lauretta from Fashion Forward come to our event and share how they support Homefront, an organization that helps women escape domestic violence.
She mentioned that women don't share enough. We don't talk about how we are struggling to pay our rent, or that our husband is financially abusing us or that he is making it difficult for us to work.
She shared a story of a woman who had a husband that destroyed all her clothing so she had nothing to wear to court. These are the kind of stories that make it important to have us support Fashion Forward, Homefront, and the YWCA Sheriff King house that help women transition out of situations like those.
One lady said....
Domestic violence is like a cancer. It ripples through the family like a stone thrown in a pond. Thank goodness for the YWCA.
Networking costs money. I know some people reading this (me included) have spent anywhere between $30 and $150 (or more) on a ticket to an event where our friends will be or as an opportunity to network.
If you have to choose between heating or rent how do you justify such an amount? The other problem is how to find out about these events if no one invites them or tell about them? One of the problems these women face access to opportunities which can always translate into employment opportunities.
Think about it. If everyone in your network is a casual labourer than it is pretty likely they will recommend a casual labour job to you. If all your classmates are in finance then you can bet that they will be recommending some financial or business positions.
Where do we go from here?
One woman said that "we need to care more about each other" and all agreed.
We shared our stories around the table and it was clear that we all had very similar experiences. We all had the same struggles with motherhood, finances, abuse in our past. The main difference between the women who were at the YWCA and Mustard Seed and the influential women was opportunity.
The women said that they loved having events like the one that was hosted. We all agreed that simply creating solutions in isolation from the people experiencing the problem is not helpful. Providing help and resources for women in poverty was the main take away, but the real question becomes what do these women do once they have just broken out of poverty? We need to create more opportunities for them!
We all had a great time and I think that each and everyone of us had our eyes opened to something new. We wanted to do our part and sent each woman home with a gift bag of Alora products and chocolate donated my Mosaic Marketing.
How can Alora help?
What we learned is that there is a need for sharing stories, skills, and employment opportunities. We will continue to raise money for the Mustard Seed and YWCA and host our jewelry making workshops. There was one woman who was at our class that said she truly enjoyed the class and can add jewelry repair to her resume!
How can you help?
You can choose to make a difference in other people's lives. You can start seeing those who are otherwise invisible. You can volunteer or make a donation.
Fashion forward states that we all have something to give. That is the truth.
I want to say thank you to the following Calgary based organizations. If you are looking for spa services, a great lunch, or photography services consider the following:
Spa Day donated by Swizzlesticks Salon and Spa
Photography donated by Jodi O Photography
Appetizers and Drinks donated by Craft Beer Market
Coordination and Support: REAP Calgary