Many of us already know that domestic violence against women has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. That is what makes this year’s United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women such an important event.
While the world is gradually making progress in stemming the spread of the pandemic, many families continue to struggle. The holiday season is a particularly challenging time for the most vulnerable members of our community – and a time when they need our help most.
Making a difference
As co-founders of Ext. Marketing, Jillian Bannister and Richard Heft planned from the very beginning to make helping those in need one of Ext.’s core tenets. And they could think of no better area of focus for their support than on helping women and children in difficult circumstances.
Having volunteered at Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter for many years alongside her mother, Jillian was well aware of the broad reach of domestic violence. “It comes in many shapes and sizes,” she says, “from psychological to physical, and it leaves an indelible, negative mark on society; perpetuating the cycle of abuse, unemployment and poverty.”
“It takes a lot of guts for women in situations of abuse to leave,” says Jillian. “And when they do, it’s often with little more than the clothes on their backs.”
Being a woman in business and financial services, Jillian felt that contributing to Ernestine’s was the perfect place to make a difference. “In addition to being a safe haven, Ernestine’s provides support programs for women to move forward with their lives,” says Jillian. “It provides counselling, a food bank, transitional housing and legal support to help them successfully rebuild their lives.”
Keeping the doors open
Angela Mazza, Manager of Development and Engagement for Ernestine’s says, “Support from corporations such as Ext. has been essential, particularly during the pandemic when so many social services were cut back or put on hold. Those in our transitional housing and outreach program were especially vulnerable, as they were no longer able to come in person to our food bank. But thanks to the support of our sponsors and the Government of Ontario, we have been able to keep our doors open,” says Mazza. “We have also been able to deliver food boxes, diapers and other necessities to those we support in the community.”
Ext. is committed to helping Ernestine’s keep its doors open, as well as to helping end the cycle of violence against women and assisting those in need in rebuilding their lives.
How to help
Learn more about how you can make a difference by supporting Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.