If there’s one thing Covid-19 has taught us, it’s that community is everything. Community is an extension of family; it’s what gets us through the tough times and helps us celebrate the good. For Townline and TL Housing Solutions, community has always been the heart of what we do: building homes and communities that support happy, healthy lifestyles for all.
A crucial component of building community is supporting those in need. Philanthropy is fundamental to Townline’s belief system – it’s the Townline Way. We have always believed in contributing to our communities in a wide variety of ways – which includes supporting the organizations that in turn support the individuals in our cities, towns, and neighbourhoods.
One of these remarkable organizations that we are proud to be involved with is Soroptimist – an international group created in 1921 to improve the lives of women and girls in our communities. Soroptimist means “best for women.”
It is run by female professionals around the world who volunteer their time to make a difference – women at their best, helping other women be their best.
Women Helping Women
For the past ten years, Julie Knisley has been closely involved with the TriCities branch of Soroptimist, serving as president, secretary, and project committee member on a number of different initiatives. “We have so many talented women in our membership,” says Julie, a Sales Effectiveness Executive. “Entrepreneurs, accountants, nurses, teachers, RCMP, and even an environmental biologist. All with kind hearts, wanting to roll up their sleeves and share their talents.”
Soroptimist’s many programs help educate, empower, and enable women and girls in our communities. Bea’s Kloset is a free store full of donated furniture and household supplies, where women coming out of foster care, recovery centres, or abusive situations can “shop” for the things they need to begin the next chapter in their lives. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes invites men, women, and children to literally walk a mile in women’s shoes to raise awareness of gender inequality. Even male police officers join the walk wearing red stilettos as the crowds gather to cheer them on!
Warm Place for Women is a monthly social evening offering friendship, mentorship, and a nutritious dinner, plus gently used clothing and household items. The program was put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic – so the big-hearted volunteers at Soroptimist tracked down over 25 regular attendees to give them $100 grocery gift cards, helping them feed their families during this particularly difficult time.
Many of Soroptimist’s regular programs had to be postponed during the pandemic. With a keen sense of critical need, the TriCities members stepped up to help doctors in the community. A Dress the Docs project gathered donated fabric, sheets, and socks (used as cuffs) to sew more than 200 reusable hospital gowns and help keep doctors safe. “It was amazing,” says Julie, “to see so many Soroptimists and friends of Soroptimists cut patterns and fabric, sew and deliver, all while self-isolating!”
Support for Soroptimist
From mentoring and career education to much-needed resources, Soroptimist helps girls and women lift themselves out of compromised situations, achieve education and employment goals, and lead fulfilling lives they can be proud of. But they need help to do it.
“We are a 100% volunteer team, so we rely on the personal and financial support of organizations like Townline and TL Housing Solutions,” says Julie.
“It has helped us maintain programs like Bea’s Kloset and Warm Place for Women, and even enabled us to award a single mother a $5,000 scholarship this year. In our Walk a Mile program last April, Townline’s very own Chris Colbeck walked in his stilettos in support of gender equality!”