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qathet safe

Creating Safe Spaces for Everyone: qathet SAFE

April 26, 2024

When it comes to supporting people who are affected by violence in our community there is much to be done.

It’s the work that Powell River and Region Transition House Society (1991) and Powell River Community Services Association (1967), now combined under the umbrella of qathet SAFE, have been doing through a variety of programs and services for decades.

A SAFE community

“SAFE stands for Safety and Advocacy for Everyone,” explains Executive Director Ann Kurtz, “and that is what we are about. We are there for everyone in the community—people of any gender identity, all walks of life, all ages. We help people cope with trauma and violence. We’re there when people are struggling to create safety for themselves and their family, or when they’re grappling with difficulties such as poverty.”

The programs qathet SAFE provides range from Grace House (Powell River’s Transition House) and Poverty Law Advocacy (free, confidential legal assistance for low-income community members) to a variety of programs providing victim services, counselling and outreach.

Hidden impact

“Our programs have a hidden impact,” Ann says. “Often people don’t know about our services unless they need them. But when they do, they are very thankful for them. If there’s a family fleeing violence and they need Grace House, or if someone’s been sexually assaulted and needs support through their police statement, we’re there for them. The impact is huge, but it’s typically silent and invisible to the larger community.”

The services provided by qathet SAFE are always at full capacity, Ann says. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of clients for all the programs…but we also know there are likely pockets of people we could help who don’t know about the services, or who are having a hard time accessing them.”

Making a plan to optimize efforts

Filling this gap, and addressing the challenges posed by optimizing the efforts of the small but mighty qathet SAFE team, are two key reasons the organization is engaging in their first strategic planning process this fall.

First Credit Union (FCU) has provided $2500 in funding to assist the organization with this undertaking.

Bonnie Whelan is the Board Chair of qathet SAFE, and she says strategic planning will help the organization focus on where it is going. “It will give us some guidance on whether we should branch into new areas or concentrate on the programs we’ve got and work to make them better.”

Another funding contribution FCU will be making over a 3-year period to qathet SAFE will be dedicated to Indigenous-lead community events and programs, such as providing support to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Walk.  

More than a donation

Funding contributions from FCU and other local organizations and individuals are incredibly valuable to qathet SAFE. But the meaning of this community support goes beyond the financial assistance.

“It means that people care,” Ann says. “When people donate, no matter the amount, the victims—everybody who’s struggling—feel seen and heard.

“The more people care, the more they want to learn about the impact of violence and what they can do to change the community so there is less violence, more compassion, support and caring for everyone who lives here.”

Getting involved with qathet SAFE, by donating or contributing time as a board member, is an opportunity to make a positive change in the community. “It’s a way to say, ‘Let’s do things differently. Let’s make our community a kinder place to live.’”

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Written by Emma Levez Larocque