The Bare Minimum – Providing Necessities for Women
Have you tried getting dressed in the morning and trying to live up to the demands of being a mom without a bra? It is uncomfortable to say the least. Not being able to afford a bra or underwear also holds you back from going into public places, eats away at self confidence and makes holding a job difficult. For many women accessing emergency shelter services at Eagle's Nest Stoney Family Shelter this is reality every day. Leaving home to come to the shelter is often a quick decision made out of necessity which makes packing your belongings last priority. Many of the women that Eagle's Nest sees have never had a bra that fits.
Eagle's Nest is a small rural shelter that serves on average 176 women and 160 children every year on the Stoney First Nation Reserve. Recently, after speaking with shelter residents about what would make the most difference in their every day experience, the shelter began trying to provide a new bra, underwear and a set of pajamas for each resident. The pajamas are donations from local community members and underwear and bras are currently purchased as small private donations of funds are received. As of yet only some residents have been able to receive these items as donations are sporadic and sparse.
Funds from the Field Law Community Fund Program will be used to provide new bras to women residing at Eagle's Nest from August 2018 - July 2019. Wellness workers who counsel and mentor residents at the shelter will take the women residents to purchase a new bra. The wellness worker will use the shelter's van to drive to Canmore or Cochrane (the closest cities) providing an opportunity for a woman who has just turned her life upside down to have a momentary break from crisis.
There are many contributing factors to raising a family out of the cycle of poverty. A bra and underwear can mean that a few of those factors can be removed - proudly walking out in public, feeling confidence to reach for new goals such as education or employment, demonstrating to her children the importance of wellness. Through partnerships in the community Eagle's Nest can help women find resources for further counselling, housing, food and basic needs as well as education or job placement. Something some women take for granted, a bra, can mean a woman is better prepared to move forward from the experiences and life situations that brought her to the shelter and can feel confident accessing further supports.
Who Will it Benefit?
The immediate beneficiaries will be the women who reside at the shelter. Children of these women will be the secondary beneficiaries in having witnessed the importance of wellness and self care as well as the impact of confidence in everyday life. Tertiary beneficiaries will be family and friends of the women receiving the bras. CARE Canada states that when you help women and girls you help their whole community (https://care.ca/why-women-and-girls) and it has been our experience that this holds true for the women who have been resident at the Eagle's Nest Stoney Family Shelter as well.