“I came out of this program with a bit more confidence and knowledge to figure myself out further. I learned a lot. I felt supported. I feel empowered being a woman. I am so grateful for NYWC. I am so happy that this support system is available, especially when it’s so hard to heal from pain and past traumatic events.”
– NYWC group participant
NYWC’s 33rd year was marked by many changes, from new staff hires to restarting in-person services at the Centre despite the lingering impacts of Covid-19 in both the community and the non-profit sector. However, our drive to advance equality and empower woman-identifying and gender-diverse people remained constant and unwavering throughout the 2022/2023 year.
Investing in a new Volunteer Manager position supported this mission and our strategic-plan goal to rebuild NYWC’s volunteer program, which had been decimated by the pandemic.
Volunteers are key to NYWC’s success because they help facilitate programming, act as ambassadors for the organization and promote trust and confidence in the Centre. In addition, volunteers gain beneficial work and life skills while boosting their own self-esteem and well-being – which also aligns with our work.
NYWC’s Board of Directors recognized that reconstructing the volunteer team – particularly in a period where some individuals can only work virtually – required a dedicated staff person. This ensures that we attract, engage and retain volunteers that help us meet the needs and goals of the organization, while also providing support and fulfilling experiences to keep them involved.
Our new report on future service needs informed us to support participants better.
This year, NYWC also conducted a comprehensive study that gathered insights from other women-serving and partner organizations, plus current and past service users. This included the review and analysis of 2-1-1 calls during the pandemic for the neighbourhoods that we serve. The report has already inspired new ideas and will inform upcoming strategic planning and programming decisions, as well.
NYWC reopened the office to in-person services again in October 2022.
It wasn’t business as usual, however. Service users and volunteers are still facing challenges returning to in-person services. In response, we introduced a hybrid service-delivery model with 1:1 support available remotely and in-person each weekday, in addition to virtual group programs. After strategic review and the hire of five new contract facilitators, the revamped Women’s Empowerment Series and STEPS to Work programs relaunched in early 2023. Participation has been strong.
In November 2022, we also held our first in-person Annual General Meeting since 2019!
We renewed our commitment to staff development.
Like many fields, the entire non-profit sector is experiencing a human resources crisis due to post-pandemic staff burnout and resignations, labour shortages and other challenges. NYWC has always deeply valued the team, but plan to further strengthen our HR practices, professional development and training in the coming year.
We raised our profile and revenue.
In addition to creating local TTC bus ads, we continued to boost our web and social media output and results. In fact, web users and social media follows are up over last year by 62% and 19% respectively. Revenue also increased, as it has over the past five years, enabling us to plan for the future and proactively respond to community needs.
We appreciated our NYWC staff and Board of Directors more than ever.
Over the 2022/2023 year, the Board offered invaluable guidance and support. We are grateful for all Board Members and want to particularly thank Elissa Podolsky, who served as Board Chair from 2019 to 2022. In the upcoming year, the Board will be focusing on completing the transition to the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act and applying for accreditation with the Imagine Canada Standards Program.
Finally, we can’t thank our staff, facilitators and volunteers enough for their continued commitment to supporting women despite many post-pandemic challenges. These bright lights of NYWC make a powerful difference in a world often driven by divisive social and economic forces. If you ever wonder what inspires us to continue this work, consider this testimonial from a recent NYWC participant: “From the beginning I felt welcomed. I am just full of gratitude. The window of my mind has started to open. I feel the fresh breeze of change. It’s a start of new things for me and l am grateful to the staff, the other women and the facilitators who traveled with me.”
If you are an NYWC donor, staff member, volunteer, Board Member or program participant, please take this testimonial to heart and remember that you are helping to create powerful change in the community.
Jodi Wright, Chair, Board of Directors and Iris Fabbro, Executive Director
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