A big thank you to everyone who supports the work of the church. Here is a message from the Vice Chair of the Board Jeff Crittenden.
Many years ago, the United Church received a bequest from the Estate of Reginald W. Watkins. A portion of the money was to be used for “work with the economically disadvantaged populations”. The Watkins Fund has made many grants over the years and in 2014 granted $2,500 to Coverdale Courtwork Society in Halifax.
Coverdale Courtwork Society is a charity that receives support from Maritime Conference and provides vital programming and support services, offering opportunities that promote healing and positive change for adult women incarcerated in both Central Nova Correctional Facility and Nova Institution for Women, as well as the young women incarcerated at the Nova Scotia Youth Centre.
The grant in 2014 helped to support a program called Beyond Trauma that is designed for women who have been abused. Research shows that 92% of women and girls involved in the criminal justice system have experience trauma and abuse.
The Beyond Trauma program: increases the women’s understanding of trauma, decreases the symptoms of trauma, decreases depression and increases self-efficacy (one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task).
The results are powerful as you can tell from this story of one program participant:
One woman during her baseline interview said that she wanted to come to the program but she was sure it wouldn’t help her because she was not ‘normal’ and her life always turned out bad.
She did come to the program and in the beginning sessions mostly sat and observed. Just before mid-point in the program she became very involved in the discussion and began to share some horrific events that had happened in her life. She wept so deeply that we thought that she would stop breathing.
When she recovered, we spoke and she said:
“I thought I was so different and very bad but now sitting in this group I realize that other woman have experienced some very bad things also. These woman are wonderful women and I am a good person too”
When this woman finally realized the impact of trauma on her life she also realized that she truly was a good person. She saw an opportunity to move forward making positive changes. She is now involved in other programs at Coverdale. She still struggles but now she has hope!
We are so very grateful to the late Reginald Watkins whose generosity and compassion enabled us to support such amazing work.
In 2015, thanks to generous gifts from donors, the Foundation awarded a grant of $3,750 to Camp Tapawingo for their first ever camp for transgendered children and their siblings. Here is a brief description of what your donations enabled in the words of a mother of some of the campers.
“Every child deserves a safe place. A place where they are encouraged to be their true self. To make new friends, to play free from judgement and bullies.
Being a mom of three gender variant children I was afraid to give my children the experience of camp. To experience the life of cabins, beaches and friends. I was afraid that my children would be singled out as weird, bullied by staff and other children for the simple fact that they do not fit into the gender norm.
I asked around and after being refused twice, I was told by Rev. Kim Craig about Camp Tapawingo. I contacted Ruth from the board and she said she would take my request to the board the following week. One week later not only did I get a resounding YES! I also received the news that Alison Starks, the director in Edmonton for Camp Fyrfly, had agreed to run the camp.
I was in Edmonton and had the pleasure of meeting with AJ face to face. Both of us were very excited at the prospect of having this camp for children ages seven to 13 who happen to be transgender and extended the invitation to their siblings as well. Word got out about our camp. Twenty- two children, trans-gender, two spirited children and cisgender children invaded the camp.
The only suggestion we had from the campers was that it be longer! Friendships were formed; some came from Alberta. Connections and assurances that they were safe, accepted and valued for their authentic selves was a blessing. These young humans continue their support of each other in the form of e-mails and texts.
As a mom I am so thankful to Ruth and the board of Camp Tapawingo. I speak for all the parents that we are thankful for A.J. and her staff. I read one comment from a boy who is eleven and trans… ‘I had the best time of my life at camp!’ That says it all.
Now next year I plan to do some contacting of other United Church camps across Canada. We need a Camp Caterpillar for every child, in every province!”
If you want to start a camp in your area, you can reach Fran at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Dalgleish, Executive Director of Edge, talks about new ministry generation in the church.
When God Was Flesh and Wild is a new interview with 2013
McGeachy Senior Scholar Bob Haverluck.