Place strategy

YWCA closes Meredith Place in May



CHELSEA KEMP / THE BRANDON SUN

Brandon YWCA Executive Director Heather Symbalisty stands outside Meredith Place on Tuesday.

After decades of community service, the building that houses YWCA Brandon’s Meredith Place Westman Women’s Shelter will close for good in May.

It was a tough decision to close the current Meredith Place building, said Heather Symbalisty, CEO of the YWCA. It marks a major change in the operations of the Brandon YWCA in 2022.

“There were so many major issues that we cannot ignore that we have to be able to provide services to individuals that will be safe and secure. We cannot provide that in this building structure in the future,” he said. declared Symbalisty. “That’s why we had to make these tough decisions.”

The YWCA has developed a collaborative and strategic plan for 2021. One of the main changes the organization is pursuing is the restructuring of Meredith Place and the services it offers, including the closure of the service’s physical location at 148 11th St.

The current building housing Meredith Place will officially close on May 1. The future of the current building, which is owned by the YWCA, remains undecided.

“We had to make the heartbreaking decision to have to shut it down,” Symbalisty said. “I have cried a lot of tears over the past few days – our hearts are in there and it has certainly been a challenge, but we will move forward and meet these challenges and overcome them with the support of the Westman community. . ”

The Meredith Place building is over 100 years old and has undergone several renovations, she said, but still has structural and funding issues.

After a professional assessment of the installation and the identification of damage to the structure, it was found that it would not be possible to renovate.

“We’ve been in the community for 115 years, overseeing Meredith Place and the Westman Women’s Shelter. Over the years we have undergone many changes and we will continue to adapt to meet the needs of the Westman. community, ”Symbalisty said.

Like most other agencies in Westman and across Canada, the YWCA is experiencing a high volume of work combined with a low staffing level due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She appreciates the community’s continued understanding and respect for YWCA Brandon during a difficult time. The YWCA staff and board remain committed to supporting the community in any way they can.

Symbalisty added that the pandemic has created gaps that need to be addressed and the YWCA is working to meet those needs.

“We have to make sure that we are providing safe and secure emergency housing to those in need, and therefore because of this and because of the result of the professional building assessment, we had to make this difficult decision.”

The YWCA is exploring several potential plans to ensure that they are able to provide continuity of services. These next steps are still being finalized. Further information will be provided to the affected community and agencies as it becomes available.

The future of services and supports could include consolidating offerings into one space or creating multiple spaces in the community, Symbalisty said. She added that future plans are currently on hold as these are new decisions and YWCA staff and board members have not been able to sit down as a group to create a plan. thought about how to move forward.

Other future possibilities could include leasing additional space, establishing satellite offices or building a new Meredith Place women’s shelter.

“First and foremost, my commitment as the General Manager of YWCA Brandon is to find housing for the residents who reside in our residence right now. I have made this commitment to everyone who lives here than us. will work with them alongside them and with agencies in the Westman community to find housing for them so they can move forward in a safe and healthy space once they leave Meredith Place, ”a declared Symbalisty.

The YWCA is currently examining a variety of grant funding sources that will help guide next steps.

The nonprofit recently created a new vision and mission statement when developing the collaborative strategic plan.

The YWCA remains committed to ensuring the safety of women and others gender marginalized and victims of domestic and family violence between intimate partners. The new vision statement focuses on providing shelter and helping individuals rebuild their lives and communities through services and programs that facilitate healthier opportunities and connections.

During the restructuring process, Symbalisty said these new mission and vision statements will be at the forefront of how they will progress as an organization and ensure that the organization limits the impacts of the closure of Meredith Place.

“We need to look at the funding opportunities that are out there to be able to align with how we think we’re going to go ahead and apply for those, and then it will all depend on how we can get funding to move forward, ”Symbalisty said.

The YWCA will work with Westman’s community agencies to help get through tough times and appreciate patience as they go through this time of transformation.

“We’re long term and have no plans to go anywhere, but this century-old building is showing signs that it is too tired for us to continue,” Symbalisty said. “Sometimes we have to make those tough calls.”

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