Isolated and living in a new town, Mary* took her 9-year-old daughter and left her abusive and emotionally manipulative partner. “I took my daughter in the middle of a -35-degree cold winter night to a library and from there went to an emergency shelter,” Mary explained. Only those who have been through something traumatic like Mary has, truly know how it feels. That is why Discovery House created a peer-support group to help people like Mary share first-hand experiences with others going through an unimaginable crisis.
By the time Mary left, her partner had stolen her passport, accessed her social media and bank accounts and changed her passwords, stole her important documents, and started becoming physically violent.
After staying in two emergency shelters for 11 weeks, Mary was put forward to Discovery House for support and longer-term accommodation. Discovery House helped Mary get a place of her own by providing housing support and subsidy and was able sort out schooling for her daughter. This fall, she began attending a new 8-week peer-support group organized by the clinical mental health team at Discovery House.
“Our Mental Health Team organizes counselling and therapy sessions to help the mothers and children we support heal from trauma, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and more so they can begin to rebuild their lives,” says Leslie Hill, Executive Director at Discovery House.
Mary did not know what to expect from the group, but the group made her realize that she was not alone. She now sees the other attendees as friends, decreasing her feelings of isolation. “Although sometimes it feels like you cannot rely on anybody, I have learned through this group that you cannot lose faith in humanity. I feel confident in the safety Discovery House has given me and feel empowered to share my story,” says Mary.
Inspired by the impact the group had on her and other attendees, Mary plans to go back to school to become a counsellor so she can give back to society by helping other people experiencing domestic violence. She intends to keep in contact with the other women she met in the group so they can continue supporting each other as they journey through healing and rebuilding their lives.
“If not for Discovery House, I could have still been at an emergency shelter and might have gone back to my ex-partner,” says Mary.
*Mary is not her real name. It is a pseudonym used to protect her identity.
Having the assurance that what one donates will be making a difference is what drives many to donate to charity. But how would you know which charity organization to choose? Charity Intelligence provides Canadian donors with information that helps them make informed and intelligent giving decisions to have the greatest impact.
Charity Intelligence analyzes charities to find exceptional charities for donors. They help donors determine a giving portfolio that best reflects their interests and the change they hope to achieve. They dig deep to arrive at top ranking charities that are best in their field and there is no application process. Each year, Charity Intelligence provides a Top 100 report based on their findings.
Discovery House is pleased to be rated as the top women’s charity in the country in 2021 by Charity Intelligence. We received a 5-star rating and A grade in reporting.
Discovery House provides shelter and support to women and their children who leave abusive relationships, thanks to generous donors and funders. We provide a range of care for women and their children fleeing domestic violence from transitional housing and critical trauma-informed services to enable women and children recover from their trauma, rebuild their lives and be equipped to live independently, free from domestic violence. This work prevents the cycle of domestic violence from repeating with the next generation.
You can feel confident knowing that the gifts you give to Discovery House do a great deal of good.
On 15 October, Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society will launch Harvest Table, a gathering space intended to further support women and children who have experienced domestic violence as they heal, rebuild their lives and become equipped to live independently, free from domestic violence. This space aims to address food insecurity, social isolation and the adverse effects of domestic violence by bringing together women and children who have experienced domestic violence in a communal space where they can communicate with one another and prepare nourishing meals together while building healing connections.
Located in the heart of the shelter, Harvest Table will facilitate socialization and create a community for mothers and children during a critical turning point in their lives. It has a functional inviting kitchen space with storage, open and clean workspaces and appliances.
The space was made possible in partnership with generous organizations and individuals passionate about ending domestic violence in our society. They include The Calgary Foundation, The Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown, Berkshire, Tom Loszchuk, Wimbush Landscape Construction Services, TradesGuild, P.E.A.R.L. Foundation, Home Depot Foundation, Allstar Corporation, Fuzion, Corian, Buzz Electric, Bartel and Gibson, John Loschuk, Black Forest Wood Company, Good Fellas Electric, Clearwater Charitable Foundation, Primco, Contour Countertop, Upper Canada Forest Products, Julian Tile, Schenk, Chinook Upholstery, Keith Olsen, Adrian Lay, McClark Mechanical, New West Design, Marathon Hardware, Big Al's Texturing, Casterland, Can West Legacy and Calmark. Our lead in-kind partner, [IN] SIDE ]OUT[ Design Studio, designed the space, coordinated and executed the renovation.
A Discovery House family of eight was surprised with a home makeover courtesy of our team at Discovery House and Stephen’s Backpack Society as part of the Four Seasons of Hope project where families in need are selected to receive furniture.
Mom and her seven children not only received the furniture, but had a personalized makeover done by the team of ten from Stephen's Backpack Society. The house was transformed from a place filled with empty rooms to a warm comfortable haven to call home. They were all so so excited- mom was speechless!
“It’s a new beginning for a great family who’s been through a lot of storms and this is their rainbow today,” said Nancy McPhee, the executive director for Stephen's Backpack Society.
“They’re going to come home, thinking they’re going to find beds and they’re going to have a brand new home,” she said.
Our team at Discovery House will work with mom and her children to ensure they have all the supports they need.
Recently, a team from Discovery House and members of the Inglewood Community Garden (ICG) along with Elder Clarence Wolfleg, took part in the tobacco harvesting ceremony to usher in the harvest season. Elder Clarence blessed the tobacco and all the people that helped with the growing and maintenance of this powerful medicine. Our partnership with ICG helps address food insecurity among residents of Discovery House shelter.
For over four years, Discovery House has partnered with Inglewood Community Garden to grow produce in a volunteer plot where other plot owners volunteer five hours of work during the growing season. All produce grown in the designated plot is donated to agencies across the city. Approximately half of the produce, about 4000 pounds, is donated to Discovery House for families in our care.
The garden is also used for Discovery House kids’ programming during summer. It is an amazing place for the children to explore and learn about where food comes from, plant seeds, harvest, taste fresh produce and take some home. It has been a great place for children to heal and find calmness.
Parent survivors of domestic violence at Discovery House are also invited to participate in this beautiful, safe and calm space where they can just come and be one with nature or cultivate produce, build healing connections and take some harvested goodies.
Our partnership with Inglewood Community Garden allows for a dedicated a plot of land where both Discovery House staff and clients plant, grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables.
This has had a profound impact on the 120 families and about 400 children who benefit directly from the harvest that Inglewood Community Garden delivers.
In Inglewood Community Garden, our children have found a safe space that has helped them in their journey to heal and grow.
These videos explore the partnership between Inglewood Community Garden and Discovery House, the impact on both organizations and the importance of 'Food Dignity'.
Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Leslie Hill as Executive Director effective January 4, 2021.
Leslie has a deep passion for Discovery House and the domestic violence sector. She brings over 17 years of experience in the non-profit sector, serving populations experiencing vulnerabilities such as homelessness, substance use, mental health issues and domestic violence.
An accomplished leader, Leslie was most recently Executive Director of HIV Community Link Society. Previously, she held progressively senior roles in organizations including the Calgary Homeless Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Additionally, she was Manager of Discovery House’s Community Housing Program between 2012–2013.
A natural team player and collaborator, Leslie has a strong track record of capacity building, leadership, strategic planning, financial oversight and community relations. The Board look forward to welcoming Leslie to Discovery House as we advance toward our goal of a society free of family violence.
Board Chair, Board of Directors
Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society
IN THE NEWS
Published Thursday, January 28, 2021 11:12AM MST
It may be the era of the #MeToo movement and Women’s March, but while a reinvigorated push for gender equality may seem like progress for the cause, a look behind closed doors tells a much different story as far as domestic violence goes.
Twenty-nine per cent of Canadian women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. That’s almost one-third of our country’s entire adult female population. Domestic violence is so ubiquitous it’s an epidemic. It affects more women than breast cancer and depression. Some might be thinking, “Still? In 2019?”
Why are rates so high? Part of the problem is this: the magnitude of the issue is so underappreciated by public and policy-makers alike that support for victims of domestic violence and for the sector trying to help is far from enough to put a dent in the statistics.
Another part of the problem is our apparent tolerance of domestic violence in an age when it should be absolutely intolerable. Alberta maintains the third-highest rate in the country and yet no serious strides have been made to curb the trend.
In 2017, intimate partner violence represented about 30 per cent of all police-reported crime in Canada. The same year, police services reported more than 10,000 victims of intimate partner violence in Alberta. When you consider that 70 per cent of spousal abuse goes unreported, the prevalence of domestic violence becomes staggering.
That doesn’t even account for the most vulnerable in these situations: the thousands of children in our province who are the silent victims of violence in the home, and who also happen to be the key to ending domestic violence.
Research shows that children who are exposed to violence at a young age are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of abuse later in life. But the adverse effects of trauma caused by domestic violence can also be mitigated if caught and addressed early on.
The operative word here is “if.” In order to have an effect — a real effect — we need comprehensive preventive programming, and for that we need resources.
In 2017, Alberta shelters turned away 10,497 children due to lack of space, denying them not only safe refuge but also the critical interventions they need to break the pattern of abuse. It is no wonder this issue isn’t getting any better.
Set aside the irrefutable argument that no woman or child should be subjected to violence in the home, or even the ethical obligation we have to do something about domestic violence because we can — there is a powerful economic case to make for prevention as well.
In the past five years alone, domestic violence is estimated to have cost Alberta taxpayers more than $500 million. And it’s only going to get more expensive with incidences on the rise.
The good news is that investment in quality domestic violence prevention initiatives can be very cost effective, returning as much as $20 for every dollar spent.
Unfortunately, the sector’s resources are already tapped and additional funding for prevention work is a hard case to make where policy-makers are concerned. It might be true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and in the case of domestic violence, we know it is — but if no one is investing, then it’s worth nothing at all.
Author: Evie Eshpeter
March 19, 2019
Discovery House asked over 100 women what's the bravest thing you've ever done. Here are four of their stories.