Sunday, December 4, 2022
December 4, 2022

Salt Springers give over $28,000 to mental health first aid, women’s support

A worldwide phenomena with a foothold on Salt Spring has seen groups of women and men “who care” giving over $28,500 to local causes at their most recent gatherings.

The 100+ Women Who Care chose Islanders Working Against Violence (IWAV) as the recipients of $18,500 in November. The 100 Men who Care donated around $10,000 to the Salt Spring Community Health Society for mental health first aid training a month earlier. 

Originally the brainchild of Michigan woman Karen Dunigan who brought together friends to fund portable cribs for new mothers, 100 Who Care groups have spread across North America and now number over 900. The notion is simple: people come together and agree to give $100 and vote for which charity to give it to three times a year, explained Kirsten Bolton with the 100+ Women Who Care Salt Spring Island group. 

Getting together on Nov. 17, the group voted to donate $18,500 to IWAV, whose work includes immediate and wraparound support for women experiencing or leaving situations of violence. IWAV runs a 24-hour crisis phone line that can be reached at 250-537-0735 or 1-877-435-7544, as well as immediate housing, food, transportation, childcare, supplies, counselling and other support. 

IWAV executive director Kisea Petersen wrote that the donation will be used to extend outreach services and support for “second-stage residents,” women who have left situations of intimate partner or other gender-based violence and are supported by IWAV to “regain confidence, resiliency, and a healthier future for them and their children.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to how difficult and complex it is to make a move from a situation of violence, Petersen said in her presentation to the group. The housing crisis is also compounding what is already a major barrier for women leaving abusive partners. IWAV also owns affordable housing to meet this need, Petersen added. 

Founded in 2018, the local 100+ Women Who care group has 188 members who have so far raised over $158,000 for causes ranging from eldercare, pathways, the public library and the BC SPCA. 

The 100 Men Who Care chose collectively to support Salt Spring Community Health Society with their plans to present courses in mental health first aid (MHFA).

The group was inspired by the common experience of walking through the park or standing at a street corner, seeing someone “in distress, down on their luck, off their meds” and wondering how they can help. “Most often we do nothing because we feel unprepared, lacking the skill and or the courage to intervene,” the group wrote. “There’s no shame. We’re human after all and we are intimidated by what we don’t understand. We want to act on our conscience, but how?”

The group decided at an Oct. 6 meeting to support the society’s plans to train three people in mental health first aid, who will then return to the island and train others. 

People trained in MHFA gain the skills needed to help someone developing a mental health problem, experiencing worsening or a crisis of mental health. Just like with physical first aid, people trained can lend a hand until either the crisis is resolved or appropriate support is found. 

The 100 Men Who Care group meets three times a year, each time choosing between three nominated causes to give over $10,000 in funds to, $100 from each member. The group is looking for members to join them. Interested people can contact John Howe at jkhowe54@gmail.com.

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