News / Winnipeg

West End women's centre asking for donors' help bailing out $10K in flood damage

In January, a pipe burst flooding two-thirds of the West Central Women's Resource Centre, which helps low-income women socialize and access services.

Neighbourhood immigration settlement worker Erika Frey stands outside the temporarily shuttered West Central Women's Resource Centre on Ellice Ave.

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski/For Metro

Neighbourhood immigration settlement worker Erika Frey stands outside the temporarily shuttered West Central Women's Resource Centre on Ellice Ave.

Inside the West Central Women’s Resource Centre it’s "pure chaos" right now, as described by executive director Lorie English.

Crews are repainting walls, refinishing floors and cleaning up after a dishwasher pipe burst in January, flooding two-thirds of the Ellice Ave. building with two to three inches of water.

They are hoping to reopen the centre by the end of March, said English, though the date keeps getting pushed back as more repairs are required.

Costs not covered by insurance are already hovering around $10,000, she said.

A portion of the flooding damage at the West Central Women's Resource Centre, pictured on Jan. 25, 2017.

Supplied

A portion of the flooding damage at the West Central Women's Resource Centre, pictured on Jan. 25, 2017.

The non-profit centre caters mostly to low-income women and families and increasingly to Winnipeg’s newcomer population.

Twenty-five to 30 per cent of clients are new to Canada, numbers that are expected to grow as Winnipeg welcomes an influx of refugee claimants, said Erika Frey, one of the centre’s neighbourhood immigration settlement workers.

"The biggest thing is our services have been affected because we can’t provide the same amount of support if we don’t have a space somewhere to provide it," Frey said.

Staff are offering scaled-back, one-on-one services out of the basement of the John Howard Society a few blocks over. They’re no longer able to offer daily drop-ins with free snacks and meals, child-care, laundry service, showers, phones or computers for the community to access.

And there’s been a dramatic decrease in clients since their relocation — 630 people in January compared with 77 in February.

"I think that’s the biggest hit is that women depend on us and we’ve had the same number of people — a core group of women — who come every single day," English said. "And when we’re passing them on the street now, we’re consistently hearing from them now, 'When are you going to be open? We miss the centre.' I think people are feeling a bit lost on where they can head during this time."

English said most of the centre’s client base are isolated single moms "who don’t have many places to go, particularly with their kids."

The women’s centre is launching a fundraising campaign this week to try to offset some of its unexpected costs and reopen shortly. For more information, visit their website: wcwrc.ca.

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