EFry operates approximately two dozen different programs and services, in addition to our advocacy work to pursue system-wide changes. Everything we do has the same ultimate goal: creating opportunities for women to improve their lives and those of their children.
Creating Opportunity in Ways Big and Small
When people can’t count on their basic human needs for food, clothing and shelter being met, providing for those needs is all they think about. If someone is struggling with addiction, getting treatment will take priority over getting a job. And if a woman is in prison, planning for a place to live and a way to support herself when she gets out is a vital first step in building a future that does not repeat the past.
Opportunity comes in many forms: in a hot meal and warm bed, in help locating permanent housing, managing addictions day to day or accessing mental health services. Most of our clients connect with us at their lowest points: when nowhere feels safe, unrelenting poverty has broken them down, when they’re homeless or in prison with no idea how to build a better life when they get out.
Each situation is unique but for all, we see our role as helping provide the opportunity to make change happen. That may mean giving women and children a place where they are welcome and supported through our drop-in centres. It might mean giving them a temporary home at one of our shelters. It might mean helping incarcerated mothers stay connected to their children by recording them reading books and then sending the books and recordings to their children as part of our Storybook Program. For nearly all our clients, support is not a one-time quick fix. We work with women and their families over months, even years helping them maintain their day to day strength to continue moving forward with their lives.
The positive effect of creating opportunity may have been best summed up by one of our clients:
“When I came to EFry I couldn’t stand, so they stood for me.
When I could stand, they stood with me. When I could walk, they walked beside me.
Now I can walk on my own.”
Healing, Housing and Employment
The biggest hurdle most of our clients face is recovering from the physical, mental and emotional traumas that brought them to us. It’s hard to believe in the possibility of a brighter future when hope feels like an opportunity for more heartbreak. Our programs help women have confidence in their ability to change their circumstances and faith they will have people to give them support.
Safe, stable housing is another acute need we see unmet in a growing number of our clients of all ages. Our homeless shelters operate at capacity year-round. More than just a bed for the night, we provide homey environments and help connect women with resources to help them find affordable housing and community services.
Of course, life requires an income. For our clients unable to work, we provide help in accessing social assistance payments to which they are entitled. To help women leaving prison find employment, we created a business called Asphalt Gals, which hires them to provide site clean-up services to roofing companies. Finding a job after incarceration is extremely difficult, yet for job-ready women, having work is a key factor in being able to rebuild their lives in the community. Now entering our fourth year of operation, the business has successfully helped many women re-enter the workforce.
Whatever their needs, we know that with the right support, women can and do change their lives. With #DignityEqualityOpportunity, we have seen thousands go on to build bright futures.