For more than 20 years, Peters has been making quilts for thrift stores to sell. She started making them in the late 1990’s with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and has since made around 1000 quilts by herself.
Thrive Family Resource Centre, formerly Pregnancy & Family Support Services (555 Spence St.), recently decided on a name that sends a more inclusive message about what types of services it provides. Although Thrive has been known for its work with women, mothers and children, organization leaders wanted to encourage men to access therapy, programs and classes as well.
“We’ve seen more and more fathers getting involved, single fathering, those kinds of things,” Thrive executive director Rhonda Elias-Penner said. “We were telling fathers to step up… and we need to be able to provide for that. “Like, go be a dad! Well you don’t have the personal history or the best role modelling of how to be a father, or you were in jail or an addict or gangster. How do you go from that to fathering when you don’t have the experience?”
Elias-Penner says the organization has seen a 39 per cent increase in male clients and 24 per cent increase in families in their therapy programs in the last year, a clear indication that a more holistic approach to what family means is greatly needed in the community. “Families can look like anything, it could be two moms or two dads, or a grandmother and a grandchild, anything,” Elias-Penner said.
To help run programs for men, Thrive has hired Stan Rossowski as a crisis support worker and group facilitator. Rossowski also acts as a first contact for folks coming in for therapy who may not be able to see someone right away. “I’m pretty good at helping people solve their immediate problems, whatever they might be,” Rossowski, a Wolseley resident said.
Rossowski has a background in mental health and addictions work, and has experience in working with incarcerated men and those on parole. He said his clients have told him many times that there are not enough resources for men, and Rossowski is using his new position to help make important connections with the men who most need it.
“For many of these guys, the motivation is there and they really want to do this and they’re smart enough to realize they may need some help,” he said. “I know young guys coming out of jail, it’s motivation to stay out of jail because they have a young family. They want to give their kids what they didn’t get.”
Rossowski’s new program is called WHAM—Wellness & Health Action for Men. He says mental wellness is something everyone can aim for and achieve. “I rarely talk about mental illness, typically mental wellness, and that’s possible for everyone, whether they live with mental illness or any other condition,” he said. “A positive attitude and a wellness attitude is really important and everyone’s capable of it. “The idea is to balance mind, body and spirit, and you’ve got somebody who’s being effective and living a life they consider worth living.”
For more information, visit thrivecommunitysupportcircle.com
Read more by Alana Trachenko.
For Krystin Kotze, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, moving to a different country and living with a st
ranger for a year was daunting to think about. Kotze is living in Winnipeg, Manitoba this year while she volunteers at the Thrive Community Support Circle Childcare downtown through MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP).IVEP is a year-long work and cultural exchange opportunity for young adults. Every year, 60 IVEP participants come from more than 25 countries to volunteer in Canada or the U.S. and live with a local person or family.
When Kotze learned there was a considerable age difference between her and her host parent-to-be, Alvina Pankratz, she didn’t know what to expect.
“I was worried because of the age gap and our experiences are so different. Alvina has had a full life and mine is basically starting. What do you talk about,” she wondered.
Although 20 and 73 years old, respectively, Kotze and Pankratz bonded over a rather odd activity — quilting.
“Living with a host family is awesome. It’s like a home away from home.” -Krystin Kotze
When Kotze arrived at Pankratz’s home last fall, she was impressed by the many intricate quilts decorating the walls and asked her new host mother to teach her how to make one. Both women said they are introverted, but found they could sit and talk while quilting relatively easily.
Krystin Kotze with one of the children at her volunteer placement, Thrive Community Support Circle daycare.
“I’m usually such a loner, so doing something with someone else is really nice. Alvina makes it really easy. Whenever I had questions, she was right there to answer them. It’s something we can do together,” Kotze said.
For Pankratz, the thought of hosting an IVEPer also made her a bit nervous. She recently lost her husband and wasn’t sure she could share her home with a stranger for such a long time.
“I think I had some reservations about hosting an IVEPer because I spent a whole year alone for the first time in my life,” Pankratz explained. “But I feel very fortunate that someone found this person who was the right match for me. I feel like God was in this. God knew what I needed,” she added.
Pankratz said Kotze fits in well with her children and grandchildren, too. They took Kotze to try her first Slurpee and poutine and were with her when she saw snow for the first time. In a few months, Kotze won’t just be returning to South Africa with two new quilts, but also with memories of her second family.
“Living with a host family is awesome. It’s like a home away from home if you take the time to spend time with them and bond over things like quilting,” Kotze said. “When you try to interact with them over something that brings them joy, you don’t miss home as much when you do that.”
NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW
100 % of all donations goes directly into PFSS’s programs, workshops, parent classes, layettes, educational fieldtrips, family dinners, transportation for community members, telephone & computer assess, therapy, children activities, support groups, along with health & nutrition.
Here is a little break down:
- $10 pays * 2 baby wipes packages
- $20 pays* 3.5 containers of baby formula
- $30 pays* 2.5 clothing sets
- $40 pays for crafts for 2 sessions*children’s activities
- $50 pays* 1 box of diapers
- $60 pays *food for 3 parenting classes
- $70 pays for gas to transport community members or pick up donations
- $80 pays for 1.5 months of computer usage by participants looking for jobs, housing, doctors, research, information and much more.
- $90 pays for 40 bus tokens for community members to get to PFSS from home to participant in programs
- $100 pays for 9 hygiene items times 3plus taxes;
- deodorant, 2. soap, 3. toothbrush, 4. toothpaste, 5. kleenex, 6. shampoo, 7. conditioner,8. brush,
- toilet paper
$550 TOTAL = What do you think?… is that too much to ask for, to support women and men and children in need???
If 55 people donated $10 each month just imagine what we could do!!!
Changemakers visited us over the holidays, well let me tell ya, they did not come empty handed. First I should give you a little background story on this incredible company. Changemakers are the ones that are helping us move forward with are new name and logo….and let me just say… it is going to be FANTASTIC!!! Big reveal at are CBCN fundraiser… but I digress, so…right… * these two beautiful ladies showed up with a check in hand to donate to us, but that is not the story.
PFSS is in partnership with allot of organizations who help out simply because they can. United Way, Days of Caring Companies, Home Depot, Investors Group, Catholic Women’s Leaque, Winnipeg Foundation, MCSC, FRP, McMunn & Yates, Hub International, Universary of Winnipeg, Great West Life, Gregory Pconn, X-cues, De Luca’s, Spence Neighbour Asso., and the list goes on and on.
These ladies & gentlemen go the extra mile, which brings me back to what I was saying. One of the ladies had spare change just laying around her house, together with her family they gave us an extra $300 dollars. These people that work for these wonderful companies are MAGNIFICENT HUMAN BEINGS who just want to help. You are making the difference one coin at a time. PFSS is very grateful to the friendships we have made through the years.
From our hearts to yours Thank you.
I would like to take a few moments and tell everyone about our Stew & Bannock Day for United Way. The day was grey with a little drizzle and a slight chill in the air but that did not stop our community members, staff and volunteers from coming to this beautiful fundraiser.
PFSS is a core agency of United Way and each year agencies, like ours, create an event to raise money on their behalf. 100% of all proceeds are given back to the different agencies across Winnipeg to help fund much needed programs, services and resources for all our citizens.
Now with that being said, it was an amazing day in more ways then you could ever imagine!!! We had set up two tents out front of 555 Spence Street, our building, with tables and chair, decorations, the whole nine yards, and a little table for me to collect the money * $5 bucks for a bowl of stew & bannock *. People started rolling in around 12:30 pm. A couple of ladies got their lunch and came out to sit with me under the tents, provided by CDNC, we were laughing, being happy and wishing we had a bonfire. We started a conversation about this event and others like it. The topic raises a question…” Do you think this is the right place to have this event to raise money, considering that we live in a low income area?” Good question…as I ponder on my answer, two community members approach my table and asked if this event was free. I was about to speak when a lady came from the Thrift Store and handed me $10 and said, “Lunch is on me”. Cool, very cool; the couple thanked her and proceeded into the centre to receive their lunch. My company and I turned to one another and just as we were going to comment on what just happen a young couple approach the table…”we will have two lunches and please except this $10 for anyone who needs a lunch. Again I thanked them very much and away they went. This continued to happen thought out the entire time we were out there. Fantastic!!! Now I had my answer…
“Yes, this is the right place to have this event. It does not matter what area you are in thought out Manitoba there will always be people in need. So it is quite profound that in our west end community; that we hold this event; you see people helping people, being human towards one other, good will, joy, I helped because I could. It shows you just what kind of place we live in, what people are made of and most of all why we are here. It gives me shivers that random people came out and cared. We are NOT JUST raising money we are raising awareness, we are raising hope, we are raising people up, we are raising a hand to help, we are raising pure giving of one self. This is what we are raising, this is what we are funding. “
Thank you to each and every person who came out yesterday and made this fundraiser a fantastic turnout!!! Thank You!!!
Our AGM had a terrific turnout and we were thrilled to welcome some new volunteer members for our Board of Directors, PAC, and other committees. We highlighted Bonnie, our board chairperson, who has served 4 years as chair in addition to previous years as a board member. She dedicated her time, energy and expertise to the agency and has stuck with us through these last few challenging years, and we appreciate you staying on until a successor can be found.
We now look toward to Family Week, Thanksgiving, and our Thrift Shop Renovations set to begin soon. Thanks again to everyone who volunteered and supported the Thrift shop’s Fashion Show and Chocolate Soiree on the 17th! It was a fabulous fun day that raised $5000.00, and is already being requested again for next year!
The international March for Peace, on September 28th, was both inspirational and diverse, bringing people of different race, religion, and cultures together for a wonderful evening of comradery, understanding and a common goal… PEACE! We were pleased to be an organizer and participant again this year, and will continue throughout the year to be a peace partner in our community and across all geographical and political avenues.
Other important news……Changemakers is ready to launch the survey for our new name and logo, so stayed tuned to your email or the site and volunteer to provide your ideas and input!
Christmas is coming! We are starting to collect items for our children and their families, so please keep us in mind for new unwrapped gifts or monetary donations to help cover the cost of the dinner and venue.
Thank you & Blessings for a Bountiful Thanksgiving!
We head down to the Spence Street Thrift Shop, where volunteers are the lifeblood.
We visit the Spence Street Thrift shop, which has been supporting low-income families for decades thanks to their passionate volunteers.
Fashion show to fund social services hub
Spence Thrift Shop hopes to renovate in October
By: Alana Trachenko
Posted: 09/6/2016 11:24 AM
On Sept. 17 you can enjoy an afternoon of fashion and chocolate for a good cause.
Spence Thrift Shop, run by Pregnancy & Family Support Services (PFSS), is hosting a fashion show from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Soul Sanctuary (2050 Chevrier Blvd.), in an effort to raise funds for programming and renovations. The not-for-profit shop celebrates 30 years in 2016, during which time it has provided revenue for a variety of services to local families.
“It started as a service to the community,” PFSS director Rhonda Elias-Penner said. “We got a lot of referrals from social workers and other people who were looking for goods for women that either fled domestic violence with nothing on their back or moved to the city and were pregnant or had children and needed support.
“At that point in time, we had a really good volunteer base… the store not only supported itself but generated revenue so it would go to the programs in the resource centre, so parenting classes, prenatal classes, nutrition.”
The agency also offers an adult resource centre, a child care centre and free therapy. Most people are surprised the centre does so much, Elias-Penner said. With a dip in volunteers and donations, they knew they had to find a way to keep providing for the community.
“This is a community service,” she said. “Closing it is not really an option, and so we need to come up with new, innovative ways.”
The fashion show will be modelled by store volunteers as well as a few celebrity models including Tracy Koga from Shaw TV, Janet Stewart from CBC and Jennifer Ashley from lifestyle blog Pretty Little Details. Guests can also bid on silent auction prizes, such as a pair of hand-beaded leather jackets or the clothing modelled. Chocolate and sparkling juice will be served.
“I’d be thrilled if we made $6,000,” store manager Kristy Muckosky said.
She said some of that will go towards renovations for the shop which have been put off for lack of funding.
The shop employs volunteers to run the store, typically women who want to gain experience or enter the workforce but may be challenged by a recent move or mental health issues.
“My vision for the store is for it to be a well-known staple, like Harvest or Siloam and I want to the city to know it,” Muckosky said. “It’s really an endearing little place and it’s the people who make it and the volunteers and the customers.”
She’s expecting see a large turnout for the afternoon.
“The tickets have been selling pretty well,” Muckosky said, encouraging anyone interested to purchase one as soon as possible.
Tickets are $20 and can be found at Eventbrite.ca
For single moms, dads, two-parent families or anyone with children, Pregnancy and Family Support Services gives a hand up, without judgment. But it could use just as much help as it’s doling out.
“We went from being a full-time, drop-in program five days a week, six hours a day, to cutting back to 21/2 days a week and then one day for classes,” said Rhonda Cenerini, the acting executive director of the agency. “We have had to cut back and cut back and cut back, and yet we’re getting more and more clients.”
Last year, the resource centre at 555 Spence St. took in just under 5,000 clients. This year, it has already helped more than 8,000.
Cenerini said the growing number stems from an influx of newcomer Canadians in the neighbourhood and from more families being involved with Child and Family Services. More children are being apprehended, and more families need their support system, she said.
Government funding hasn’t grown to match the agency’s needs, Cenerini said. So the non-profit relies largely on private donations and help from United Way Winnipeg, which funds its free family counselling.
The agency provides prenatal, parenting and self-care classes, infant and child care, family counselling and monthly emergency food and baby-supply services.
It has an adjoining thrift shop where proceeds go directly back to the resource centre.
The agency has been a staple in the West End for 42 years and helped single mom Amy Linklater, 35, land on her feet when she moved back to Winnipeg in 2012.
“I hitchhiked back from the reserve (Peguis First Nation). I was four months pregnant and I didn’t want to have a baby out on the reserve. So I made my way back to the city, and I tried to look for a job, but nobody wanted to hire me because I was so far along being pregnant. I’ve never experienced discrimination like that,” Linklater said.
A friend referred her to the agency, and she began coming to use the phone and computer to try to find a place to live. It was a scramble to find somewhere she could afford while living on employment insurance, but staff and volunteers helped her by taking phone messages from landlords when she wasn’t around.
They also referred her to the centre’s other programs, and Linklater — whose daughter, Faith, is now three years old — said she’s since used all the programs the agency offers.
She applied to be an agency volunteer in May but was offered a casual position instead.
“So my self-esteem just went through the roof because it’s been such a struggle coming back to the city, getting back on my feet as a single parent and doing all that I needed to do to make sure that my girl was taken care of,” Linklater said. “And for an agency to recognize that I have more skills that could benefit their organization and help other mothers… It helps you to remember your potential.”
Linklater is finishing a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in conflict-resolution studies at the University of Winnipeg and continues to work part time at Pregnancy and Family Support Services.
Cenerini said the agency is always looking for more volunteers, and more information about volunteer opportunities can be found on its website, pfsswinnipeg.com.
If you’d like to donate financially to the agency, you can do so through United Way Winnipeg by calling 204-477-UWAY (8929) or online at www.unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 14, 2015 B4
August 2015: Global News Story
Check out this story from Global News featuring our Spence Street Thrift Shop: http://globalnews.ca/news/2138038/better-winnipeg-volunteer-manitoba-continues-to-support-and-celebrate-volunteerism/