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YW Calgary launches funding campaign to complete new hub ‘built for women, by women’

Calgary Herald with Sue Tomney 22 May 2018

YW Calgary has launched a campaign to raise funds for a new hub catering to women and their families.

The Transformation Campaign will help raise the remaining $20 million of YW Calgary’s $60-million goal for the facility.

“Today is to get the community, the public and the city involved in what I think will be a historic and . . . a changing and transformation building in our city,” said Shannon Bowen-Smed, co-chair of the Transformation Campaign.

Sue Tomney, CEO of YW Calgary, said one of the most exciting things about the project is that it will mark the first time an infrastructure project in Calgary was conceived, designed and built by women for women.

“There is an all-female executive team who have been leading this project for the past few years, there is an all-female board, there is an all-female architectural team, which is quite unique,” said Tomney.

“It’s a little pride point to be able to say this is a building being built for women by women.”

Tomney said a difference is made when women are involved in these types of projects.

“It’s everything from hallways that are wider because you’ve got kids and you’ve got strollers. It’s help to design washrooms. It’s just a very different lens when you know you are building it specifically for women and their families.”

The YW Hub facility in Inglewood will replace the downtown location of YW Calgary, which has already been sold with profits going toward the Transformation Campaign. It will be the organization’s first new building in almost 50 years.

It will provide accessible supports for women and their families, including transitional housing, counselling, language and employment skills training, child-care space and parenting programming, as well as support services to manage the organization.

“It is intended to be a one-centre hub facility that can help all women and families get a hand up and change their world and their lives in our community,” said Bowen-Smed.

“It will be transformative in terms of the way we see services being provided, I hope not just in this city but actually in this country.”

While the new facility will be open to the community, Tomney said there will be safety measures in place for women who are escaping abusive relationships.

“Technology enables us to create spaces that are particularly safe and so we know we can adapt to those needs, but also enable those who are just trying to get their lives together and safety is maybe not as much of a concern, that they are able to fully engage with the rest of the community.”

On average, added Tomney, the YW serves around 7,000 women and their families every year.

Construction on the new facility is on time and on budget, and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2019.