Charitable Choices: Women on the Rise

Women on the Rise is a Montreal-based non-profit organization, aimed to empower mothers. We spoke with Hannah Stratford-Kurus, development agent at Women on the Rise, to learn more about what they do.

Women on the Rise

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

Women on the Rise specializes in holistic support to mothers, meeting them where they’re at. We embrace diversity and offer nonjudgmental programs and services open to all. Last year was our 30th anniversary!

What problem does it aim to solve?

Our key ‘enjeux’ are to break isolation and build empowerment. Many mothers struggle to justify their own needs, as most energy goes to supporting their family and pleasing others. A big goal of ours is to encourage women to name their needs and set goals that are related to their personal development. Some of the biggest breakthroughs come through developing trust and friendships, and our team building networks of peer support.

When did you start/join it?

I joined 2 years ago- January 2020.

What made you want to get involved?

I applied because I love NDG and it is a cherished, much respected, organization in my neighbourhood. I am so grateful to work here!

What was the situation like when you started?

I started right before the pandemic- things got off balance come March 2020. Our team adapted deftly- we remained open, remotely, despite the challenges of those early days. Our workload nearly doubled, and fears and crises among members intensified dramatically. Most of our efforts were devoted to individual support, mostly counselling and check-ins by phone; as well as a huge surge in food security operations, including delivering bulk items and providing grocery cards to members on a needs-based priority system.

How has it changed since?

We are gradually recalibrating our equilibrium, and our services are closely linked with the needs and comfort levels of our members. We have been offering a wide variety of activities online in the past year, including online art exploration classes, yoga sessions, and social hours. We have also had the opportunity to offer some cooking classes, group workshops with a certified life coach, and leisure activities like bingo on-site during the lower-risk months.

What more needs to be done?

The needs of the neighbourhood are great. Our members cite challenges related to poor housing, evictions, inflation and increase food costs, delays in the immigration process; as well as challenges with their children’s schools and development. We are constantly our evaluating our role in these difficult economic times. Our focus is on empowering women and offering skill-building opportunities that positively benefit the whole family- we take this vision and apply it to the task at hand. Women have experienced significant challenges and additional burdens since the beginning of the pandemic, and we believe we have a strong role to play in addressing these issues. Our goal in the next year will be to increase opportunities for women to socialize and share their experiences- this can look like support groups, chats, art & music therapy, family coaching, and more.

Women on the Rise

How can our readers help?

Readers can help by making a donation to support our mission! Donations can be made online. We are a very small organization, with only 2 full-time staff- we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals to ensure we can continue to offer the amazing services that we do.

Do you have any events coming up?

We are celebrating our 30 year anniversary, and the retirement of our Executive Director of 20 years, Grace Campbell, this May at a very special Gala at the Hampton Inn in Dorval. All are invited to attend and join us for dancing and celebration! We are so looking forward to this in-person event.

Where can we follow you?

Readers are also invited to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our website, there is an option to sign up for our newsletters.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?

Great question! I have a lot of admiration for CARE Jeunesse, an organization by-and-for alumni of foster care. They do amazing work.