We had the chance to catch up with Karen Ramchuk, Executive Director at WINS about what they do to help women achieve self-sufficiency.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Women in Need Society (WINS) is Calgary’s homegrown thrift charity that provides women and their families with the resources, knowledge, skills and confidence needed to achieve self-sufficiency. WINS has grown to five thrift store locations across Calgary and includes a Donation Centre, a bulk thrift store and their nationwide online thrift box service.
What problem does it aim to solve?
WINS helps people from all walks of life, including women and their families transitioning from shelter or homelessness, single mothers and their children, women leaving abusive relationships, elderly women living in poverty and/or isolation, newcomers to Canada and women experiencing mental and physical health barriers.
When did you start/join it?
WINS was founded in 1992 and began as a single thrift store location. Since our humble beginnings, WINS has grown to include five thrift store locations across the city and three Community Resource Hubs. The revenue from our thrift store operations supports these hubs and programming like House to Home and employment services like Retail Ready.
What made you want to get involved?
There is significant community impact when vulnerable women and their families are provided with the support they need to grow. We work to empower women so they can lead resilient, self-sufficient lives providing for themselves and their families.
What was the situation like when you started?
While there has always been needed in our community, the impact of the pandemic and economic hardship has impacted women disproportionately to their male counterparts. We currently serve 17,000 clients and their families annually, and the need increases each year.
How has it changed since?
We have grown significantly since our single thrift-store, and now offer an essential resource, Community Resource Hubs at three locations across the city. The pandemic has exacerbated a difficult situation, with women accounting for 53.7 percent of year-to-year employment losses, according to a recent Stats Canada Report.
What more needs to be done?
Support WINS! Donate, shop, volunteer with us! Reduce your environmental impact while supporting local women in your community and finding the perfect piece to match your style. Follow along with our social media and shop your way with WINS, from our five thrift store locations, More Store and Twice New Boxes shipped across Canada to choose from, there is an option for every shopper to support WINS.
How can our readers help?
Volunteers are pivotal to the WINS mission, and we appreciate gifts of time, energy and talent from our community. Ways to get involved include: volunteering in our thrift stores and Donation Centre, organizing a corporate volunteering event, product and monetary donations. You can fill out the WINS volunteer application, here.
Do you have any events coming up?
Be sure to follow along on our social media for any upcoming events! We have some big things happening in the next few months! Our Twice New boxes are often discounted for special occasions, with new box themes added regularly!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We are privileged to amplify our message by working alongside many fantastic local non-profits, including Centre for Newcomers, who recently partnered with us to develop Customer Service CARES, a four-week program dedicated to helping newcomers develop customer service skills.