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This month we have a guest post by our very own placement student, Mae Baird.  Mae is currently in the Social Service Worker program at Georgian College, and today she’s sharing what she’s learning while helping out at Redwood.
Violence affects women everywhere, cutting across boundaries of wealth, race, culture, social status, occupation, religion and sexuality. Sometimes we refer to these women as victims, but the word brings its own stigma and discrimination.  Helpless and passive, weak, damaged, powerless; this is the baggage of victimhood.  A woman may be a victim of abuse, a survivor of abuse, but she is much more than that.
Redwood Park Communities provides women with more than just a roof over their head. They provide a safe, warm, casual, non-institutional environment to promote self-help and self-empowerment.  The staff encourage a strengths-based approach with an emphasis on engaging and mobilizing women’s strengths while empowering them. The supportive environment of a caring community with a flexible structure is crucial to engaging women who have a more complex history with oppression, fear, and distrust. Redwood Park Communities’ apartments are unique and completely furnished, with a comfortable vibe that makes you feel special and welcome. Each unit is provided with fresh clean linens and a basic needs package that contains toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, etc.
Many women who have faced tragedy have escaped, survived and gone on to build a life for themselves and their children. We are all in a position to help. In helping others we can create a community where respect, equality, and freedom exist. As a caring and devoted community it is up to everyone to openly challenge and address injustice where we find it. We need to treat people with a non-judgmental, sensitive, and respectful manner.  We need to ensure that all people have the right to live free from the presence of any threat of violence. The equality, dignity, and distinctiveness of all persons must be recognized and supported at both an individual and social level. Violence against women is not a private family issue; it is a community and public issue. At Redwood Park Communities, building a supportive community with growth, equality, understanding, and togetherness is a big portion of what they do.