In July of 1989, five women concerned about social justice and poverty issues came together to begin exploring the need for a women’s agency. During the following six months, a “needs” assessment was conducted and gaps in services were identified. The process of incorporation, obtaining non-profit status and developing fundraising initiatives was established. In February 1990, service delivery began at 142 McKay Avenue. Volunteers became a vital part of the organization.
The aim of the Centre was to create a non-threatening, non-adversarial, comfortable, participatory and supportive environment in which women felt a sense of empowerment. The staff defined empowerment as a model of social support that presented a joint endeavour by the client and staff to increase individual choice. The philosophy of the Centre’s model of support reflects a feminist perspective and this perspective has led to the development of a women-centered program based on the empowerment model.
As early as 1998, the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women was approached by the Social Services Department of the Corporation of the City of Windsor to provide emergency shelter to women experiencing homelessness. New quarters were purchased at 263 Bridge Avenue to replace former smaller quarters at 142 McKay Avenue. In January 2000, the Well-Come Home Women’s Shelter, under the umbrella organization of the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women, was created and began accepting women into the shelter. In 2005, the Welcome Centre underwent major revisions, increasing from 8 to 12 single beds and making additional changes to the structure of the building. In May 2015, the Centre began providing case management and housing support services to any family living in Windsor Essex experiencing homelessness. Families are currently housed off-site in local motels while being provided the same services as single women off site through a housing support worker. The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women now offers programming to women 18 and over as well as any family to assist in ending the cycle of homelessness, poverty and violence.
Our Mission & Goals
The Welcome Centre Shelter exists to reduce the devastating impact of homelessness and poverty by providing safe emergency shelter and transitional supports to women and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Safe housing for every woman and family, every night; no exceptions.
The following values represent the core beliefs of the organization. The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women believes in.
Our programs and services are women-centered and empower women to recognize their self-worth and inherent power.
We respect all women and promote inclusion.
We offer a safe and caring environment for women where they can be free of violence.
We are committed to ensuring that our programs are responsive to changes in our community.
The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women collaborates with other community agencies and services to offer a variety of supports to women.
The organization is open and accountable to people, volunteers, partners, funders and the community.
All staff, students, and volunteers working at the shelter are women who are striving to become role models of empowered women. The women involved with the shelter believe patriarchy is a system that does not work for women and children; they are engaged in changing the laws and creating more options for women while helping the community to acknowledge the impact of gendered violence, poverty, racism and all other forms of oppression has on the lives of women.
Our goal is to serve as leader in the women’s movement within the community at large.
Centre Objectives and Goals
- To provide emergency shelter, food, support, political education/action and advocacy to women and families experiencing homelessness within a safe, stable, and inclusive environment.
- To offer all services utilizing a feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive approach that is focused on minimizing power imbalances between staff, residents, students, volunteers and board members
- To recognize and support the strengths and abilities of each client, and to encourage each client to have confidence in her ability to take charge of her own life.
- To seek support and guidance from homeless individuals in the development, implementation, and evaluation of all programs and services.
- To provide opportunities for individual and group exploration, analysis and problem-solving around the oppression of women, poverty, and homelessness and how these forms of oppression may be interfering with the life of a resident and her ability to feel empowered.
- To provide women and families with emotional and social support that focuses on her resilience and empowerment through individual support, mutual aid and self-help.
- To assist women and families in attaining safe and affordable housing, income support/employment, long-term supports and other resources required to help her move toward self-reliance and independence.