LCIH Honours 35 Year Herstory

While LCIH officially opened in May of 1979, the shelter was already occupied in April by women in need of emergency services. We’ve had a long history of supporting women throughout the county and continue to expand muchneeded services over the years.

In 2002, we opened our first outreach office in order to better serve the many women who were not residing at the shelter but who were also experiencing violence at the hands of their partners.

At this time, we also established two critical programs, a transition support program that helps women successfully re-establish themselves and their families in safe housing, find employment or further education, support through the court program, and more. The other new program was the child and youth program.

Today, we offer two children’s programs; one in the shelter and one from our outreach offices. These programs work directly with children who have either witnessed violence in their homes or have experienced it directly. The children benefit from direct counselling to help them process their experiences and to eventually feel safe again.

The Sexual Assault Centre, which was sponsored by LCIH, ceased operating due to a lack of funding in 2004. However, although the centre closed, the need for these services still existed. To help alleviate this need, LCIH established a sexual assault program within the agency.

Our second outreach office, this one located in Perth, opened in 2006. This was so we could better serve the many women in Perth and Lanark Highlands.

In 2008, the Ministry of Community and Social Services offered one-time capital funding towards extensive renovations for the shelter. Our administrative offices were established in the century-house and a new, seven-bedroom accessible shelter was built on our existing property. This renovation made the shelter much more functional for communal living for multiple families. It helps to give the message to the women and children who come to stay at the shelter that they are valued and cared for at a time of great upheaval in their lives.

Through two Status of Women Canada grants, LCIH was able to focus on youth between 2009 and 2012. Our Where is the Love? project allowed our staff to reach teens right in their own high schools and youth groups, and the Truth for Rural youth project established an online presence that allows teens to interact and post about topics that are important to them around relationships.

Although funding for these projects has ended, we feel it’s critical to engage with teens and look for innovative ways and funding opportunities as often as we can. The Truth for Rural Youth (TRY) website is still active at http://trylanarkcounty.com and LCIH, with the help of several partners and generous fundraisers, will be hosting a Where is the Love? conference on May 14 in Perth.

For more information on the conference, email brianne@lcih.com .

In 2013, LCIH was chosen to receive limited funding to establish a court support program for Lanark County. At just eight hours per week, our court support worker works mostly with women trying to navigate the family court system. After she leaves is often by far, the most dangerous time for an abused woman. Not only has she left the control of an abusive partner, feels unsafe and unsure of how to manage all the changes in her and her children’s lives, but she now has to face the abuser in the courts to establish separation agreements, child custody and visitation.

The family court support worker is often the only person dedicated to supporting this woman and we feel it is among our most important programs to directly help women successfully move on after abuse.

In the past few years, LCIH has continued to provide services to the increasing number of women and children reaching out to us for support. A combination of the economic downturn and rising cost of living has created more stress in our family homes and is resulting in increasing incidents of violence. Our operational funding has still not increased in several years and will most likely not increase in several more and as a result we have pared down as many administrative functions as possible and have ramped up fundraising appeals.

As always, we express our most sincere gratitude to the community who support our fundraising mail outs and various fundraising events we hold throughout the year. This support directly affects the number of women and children we are able to help escape from the abuse at the hands of their partners. And we have helped thousands in the past 35 years. Our greatest hope is that in the next 35 years, we will no longer be needed.

Watch for more on the 35th Anniversary as we add photos and launch new events over the coming year.