Williams Lake is placed strategically to stop the flow of women from the north ending up on the streets in Vancouver, the founder of Linwood Ministries said.
While addressing Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce members Thursday, Gwen McVicker challenged business owners to engage with women who access the Great Room in Williams Lake –– a safe haven for abused women in the city.
“Can you love those who have been caught in addiction?” she challenged.
McVicker said too often vulnerable women who arrive in Vancouver from northern communities will not make healthy choices.
“Within a few days of thinking they’ve found their dream in the big city, if they are vulnerable and do not have lodging, I guarantee they will be an addict.”
She said a vulnerable woman who travels to Vancouver will often come back to her home in the north and by that time she may have five other children and those children will often be addicted, prostituted or sexually exploited.
“You will then have a greater number to care for,” she said.
Encouraging community members to begin having conversations about ways to support the work of Dina Kennedy, who opened the Great Room in Williams Lake, modelled after Linwood Ministries’ efforts in the Downtown Eastside.
Kennedy and her volunteers meet with women one-on-one, McVicker said.
She urged the business, non-profit and faith communities to work together.
While she was a business owner in Vancouver, the horrific details of the Pickton Farm began to emerge.
“Statistics came to light that one in four women were being abused,” she recalled.
As a business woman and a woman of faith, she went to her husband and said she had to quit her business and do something to help women.
She felt talk and faith were not enough. She had to be actively involved and now is extending her efforts from the Vancouver area by working with Kennedy.