In the summer of 2021 the Nelson and District Women’s Centre conducted a survey of its members, with questions about the centre’s services and who the centre should serve.
A summary of the results was included in an annual report presented at the centre’s Nov. 18 annual general meeting.
The report states that 200 people responded to the survey, and that the results showed “strong support for many of the services and programs currently offered, with the drop-in, girls empowerment workshops, referrals, and food and clothing provision topping the list. More education and training was supported, as was greater feminist activism.”
The survey also asked about whom the centre should serve, and the results were mixed.
“Some respondents supported a much greater focus on non-binary, in-transition and two-spirit persons, as well as trans men. Others urged the maintenance of the focus on women, with other programs/services provided when possible.”
Further consultation is needed with particular groups: young women, elder women, Women’s Centre users, and other organizations in Nelson, the report states, adding that the survey is part of a larger organizational review that will begin early in the new year, with three priorities: deciding who the centre serves, building a board and staff recruitment process, and getting the fundraising and community relations committees functioning well.
“We understand that some members are anxious for change at the Women’s Centre and we ask your patience as we work through this review process,” the report states.
The audited financial statements presented to the meeting were for the fiscal year ending in March 2021, showing revenue of $85,031 and expenses of $58,389 for a surplus of $26,642.
The statements for 2020-21 show tangible capital assets, which include the centre’s building at 420 Mill St. and its office contents, of $149,238 and total assets of $260,492.
Accounting for total liabilities of $50,378, net assets amount to $210,114.
New rules on voting
The board passed three bylaw amendments by special resolution. These established that proxy voting will not be allowed at annual general meetings, that voting members must reside in the West Kootenay, and that bylaw amendments require a two-thirds voting majority rather than the current 75 per cent.
New board of directors
A new board was acclaimed without an election because there were fewer nominations than open positions. New members Claire Amiel, Suzzanne Chappelle, Jean-Aubin Gardiner and Zabree MacInnis join continuing members Donna Macdonald, Yvette Janzen, and Kerry Marsland.
Interviewed after the meeting, board member Donna Macdonald said the centre’s services continue to be offered by appointment only, three days per week. This includes access to the free food and clothing, referrals to other agencies, and peer counselling conducted by phone.
She said the centre is researching what they might do differently regarding masks, occupancy levels and vaccine mandates.
“Normally (before the pandemic) in a day at the drop-in you’d have 12 to 18 women coming through, staying for a cup of tea or a bowl of soup, having some conversation and time with other women. And now we can’t do that, so we know there’s pent-up demand, and we’re pretty sure that once we do figure out how we can safely open, that we will be very busy.”