In a province with the highest rate of domestic violence in the country, one of the places helping victims is in need of money to make up for a major drop in donations.
SOFIA House in Regina is a transition house which offers 10 family-sized suites for shelter and security, along with counselling and support services for women and children escaping domestic violence.
Executive Director Gwyn Tremblay explains SOFIA House is funded entirely through grants and donations. This year, the organization faces a $70,000 shortfall due to a drop in donations to major funding partners like the United Way as well as other third-party fundraisers.
“We haven’t had to do any layoffs or any of those types of things at this point because we do have a bit of a reserve (so) we’re going to make it through to the end of March and to the new year and then we start again,” Tremblay commented. “But right now we’re looking at a third of our operating budget is down due to this.”
A Casino Regina show featuring male strippers was offering proceeds of the show as a fundraiser for SOFIA House at the end of the month. The Men of the Strip event was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts when the group got an offer to do a reality TV series.
Tremblay noted the decision to accept funds from the strip show was made with careful consideration by the board, funding partners, and clients. She said it was a third party event with a lot of regulations in a government-sanctioned facility.
“SOFIA House did not go out and request it or organize it or any of those things, it was offered to us by men who wanted to give back to women,” Tremblay said.
When the show was cancelled, Casino Regina stepped up with a $10,000 to SOFIA House, which Tremblay said the organization is very thankful for. The event itself was expected to raise between $10,000 and $20,000.
If the non-profit organization can’t come up with the money through donations, the board could be facing tough decisions to lay off staff or cut costs elsewhere for services. Tremblay said the board will look for alternate sources of funding perhaps from the provincial government or some kind of social enterprise.
“Can we work with a slimmer staff and maybe get some more volunteers? Those are the big, hard questions that you always have to ask,” she said. “We just don’t want any of the kids to be injured in all of this and we want to make sure that they come out as whole as possible and get the services that they need.”
In addition to housing supports and security for people fleeing domestic violence, SOFIA House also puts a big emphasis on programs such as group therapy and counselling services to help break the cycle of abuse.
Tremblay added the need is very high for transition house programs like SOFIA House, noting there is currently a waiting list of 12 families who need a safe place to stay. In the cases where they are too full to help, the organization works to find alternate shelters and safe housing for people in need, sometimes outside the city.