Community Papers

Women helping women feel better

Women Helping Women volunteers (from left) Harraj Garcha, Pindi Mann, and Tanya Gaytmenn. They collect beauty and wellness items for care baskets to send to women in transitional and emergency housing. - Adrian MacNair photo
Women Helping Women volunteers (from left) Harraj Garcha, Pindi Mann, and Tanya Gaytmenn. They collect beauty and wellness items for care baskets to send to women in transitional and emergency housing.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

For women living in shelters while they escape from an abusive situation or relationship, the simple pleasures most people take for granted can be hard to come by.

Volunteer Pindi Mann of Ladner says the goal of Women Helping Women is simple. To give the gift of making women feel more like themselves during a rough time in their lives.

"In our first year of delivering the baskets, something as simple as a pink disposable razor brought a young girl to tears," says Mann, adding it's something she'll never forget.

This is the third year in a row that she and other volunteers in Ladner are collecting beauty and comfort items for women's shelters, transition homes and residential recovery centers.

Originally inspired by a group of women that collected items for women in the Downtown Eastside, they organized 52 baskets of care items in 2010 and delivered them to Athena and Lilith Houses, recovery homes in Surrey run by volunteer Harraj Garcha's sister.

Last year, donations surpassed all expectations and they were able to give 250 baskets to 10 different facilities in Delta, Surrey, and Metro Vancouver.

"There's a need to help other people. It's not that we have so much more to give, it's that these homes need help," explains Garcha.

We have a great community here in Ladner, all these moms helping out, she adds.

Garcha quotes the first American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright: "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

In the big scheme of things, giving shampoo and nail polish might seem insignificant to what these women are facing, but Mann says it has an impact. Because of the help they give, the facilities can divert funds to other things such as hiring a lawyer.

And at this time of year when Christmas approaches and women are going through a particularly difficult time without family, the need is felt even more. Often women show up to these shelters with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, explains Mann.

Although women in transitional and emergency housing are the focus, Women Helping Women is looking at the big picture of addressing the most vulnerable in society.

"We're helping men this year, so we need to change our name," laughs Mann.

Donations will be accepted at Fisherman's Hall in Ladner on Dec. 7 between 2-4 p.m. Women Helping Women are asking for new and unused women's health and beauty products, including gift packs, purses, blank journals and novels.

For more information email womenhelpingwomenladner@gmail.com.

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