Gift baskets support South Okanagan victims group

In partnership with the United Way and The Bench artisan food market, a selection of baskets have been created with local gourmet products

Helping a person move through a traumatic experience is not an easy journey, nor is it a free one.

Taking their new slogan of Journeying Beyond Abuse, the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society is hoping the public can help their clients complete that journey by donating to the non-profit group.

“We wanted to focus more on growth and positive rather than the victim, not that we don’t see victims of abuse, but there is another story to people who have been victimized. It is a journey from abuse and assault,” said SOVAS counsellor Maureen Carey-Barkley, explaining the new slogan.

In partnership with the United Way and The Bench artisan food market, a selection of baskets have been created with local gourmet products at a variety of prices, with 100 per cent of the profits being donated to SOVAS.

There are three programs which SOVAS offers to those who have suffered abuse including a victim assistance program, women’s counselling and a men’s counselling program. Victim assistance helps people who have experienced violence in relationships, sexual assault or childhood abuse to navigate the court system. The women’s program has the same mandate.

Even though there is funding for those two programs, SOVAS still has to pay for professional development, travel, subsidizing the rent and for things like office supplies.

“The men’s counselling program is heavily reliant on fundraising efforts because men’s needs aren’t recognized as they should be and there is no funding at all for that,” said Carey-Barkley.

For those who work with SOVAS, this becomes a source of frustration because they have to piece-meal together small projects.

Recently they wrapped up the Change For Good project that was for men who want to change abusive patterns. Since the program relied upon short-term funding and they haven’t been able to find renewed funding, it sits on the shelf.

The difficulty in accessing funding is why the need for fundraisers like the one with The Bench are so important. In October, The Bench also teamed up with SOVAS and donated $1 from every lunch special they sold to the non-profit.

SOVAS is also always looking for volunteers to help the organization with administrative duties, helping with fundraising and education events, as well as volunteer positions that require some training that involve going to court to make notes on various decisions.

For more information on how to become a volunteer, contact Amberlee Erdmann at 250-493-0800 ext. 206. To purchase a gift basket, which are available until Dec. 18 from The Bench, visit them at 368 Vancouver Ave. or pick up an order form from SOVAS at 204-304 Martin St.