Calgary, AB — May 5, 2016 — The YWCA of Calgary will host its 9th annual YWCA KEEP A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS® fundraising event tonight starting at 6 p.m. Registered participants, who have been fundraising for weeks, will learn more about the barriers women experiencing homelessness face, while they ‘see one night through her eyes’ by sleeping on a cot in the YWCA‘s former gymnasium.

In Canada, women make up a significant and growing percentage of the homeless population. Last year, the YWCA served 1,552 women and their children in one of its emergency shelter, transitional and supportive housing programs.

“I strongly believe that supporting women generates an excellent social return on investment – supporting a woman improves the fate of not only the woman, but also her family which ultimately leads to stronger communities,” says event participant Wanda Rumble. “I am motivated to participate in YWCA Keep a Roof over Their Heads because I fear that current local economic conditions will (negatively) impact fundraising for local causes.”

This year’s event features an expert panel on the unique aspects related to women’s homelessness facilitated by Donna McElligott, CBC Radio host. Panelists include Kim O’Brien, Executive Director of Horizon Housing Society, Katrina Milaney PhD, Assistant Professor of Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies at the University of Calgary and Heather Morley, Director of Client Services at the YWCA.

“Most of the research and literature on homelessness has focused on men’s experience of homelessness, so we’re hoping to give listeners some insight into the gendered experience of women’s homelessness,” says Heather Morley, Director of Client Services, YWCA. “For instance, women are at an increased risk of violence, abuse and victimization if staying on the streets or in mixed gender shelters.”

Following the evening program, participants will prep their cots for ‘lights out’ at 11:00 p.m. and spend the night in a simulated YWCA shelter, replicating the experiences of the YWCA winter shelter clients who access the winter shelter program during the coldest months of the year.

When:                                  Thursday, May 5, 2016. Program 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Where:                                YWCA, 1st floor gymnasium, 320 5 Ave SE (access from north parking lot) 

Interview opportunities: 5:45 – 6:15 p.m.

  • Sue Tomney, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of Calgary
  • Karen Gallagher-Burt and Wanda Rumble, event participants

Photo opportunities:

  • YWCA Winter Emergency Response program shelter set up with 50 cots
  • 50 participants will line up in the YWCA north parking lot with their basic necessities in tow and individually experience the emergency shelter intake process
  • Panel of three local experts on women’s unique experiences with homelessness

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Fundraiser gives participants first hand experience of women’s homelessness PDF