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Villa Rosa still making a difference in the lives of young mothers

Annual fundraiser dinner on May 9

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Villa Rosa executive director Kathy Strachan says they help the most vulnerable women in Manitoba manage their pregnancies and become independent.

PHOTO BY SEAN LEDWICH Enlarge Image

Villa Rosa executive director Kathy Strachan says they help the most vulnerable women in Manitoba manage their pregnancies and become independent. Photo Store

Villa Rosa, a non-profit haven for young pregnant women and mothers, is holding its 6th annual Celebration of Motherhood Dinner on May 9 to raise funds for its work.

That work, executive director Kathy Strachan said, is helping vulnerable women navigate through their pregnancies and emerge as capable mothers.

The women coming to Villa Rosa "tend to be the most vulnerable women in Manitoba, women who have previously been living on the street, or women who come from group homes or foster care," Strachan said.

A difficult life history is not a requirement to access their services, though.

"We’re not somewhere that’s saying ‘you have to be desperate to live here,’ we’re open to any woman in Manitoba who needs a safe and healthy place for her pregnancy," she said.

The average stay at the facility, which can accommodate up to 33 women, is four to six months, she said, and the time is not spent idle.

Women are required to go to school, regardless of age or previous schooling, and attend counselling and programming.

The facility has a classroom, and three full-time teachers, which is part of the Winnipeg School Division’s "inter-divisional student services," she said.

The result of what they do — what they’ve been doing for 115 years — is women become "self-sustaining members of the community," Strachan said.

And, of course, when women leave Villa Rosa, they take with them pint-sized new members of that community, and mom is in a position to properly care for her little bundle of joy.

"We try to make everybody the best mum they can be," Strachan said.

The cost of operating the facility runs about $1.6 million a year, she said, most of which comes from the province and United Way Winnipeg. Private donors also help.

Money from The Celebration of Motherhood Dinner, which typically raises about $40,000, gets directed towards education with about half going to scholarships and half directed at getting young women to the point of graduation, Strachan said.

CBC’s Radio Noon program host Marilyn Maki has been tapped to be the emcee at this year’s dinner, she said.

"We’ve never had her before. We’ve had (Winnipeg Free Press columnist) Lindor Reynolds in the past, and she had something on that night, so, we were fortunate enough to get Marilyn."

Tickets for the May 9 dinner, being held at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport Polo Park at 1740 Ellice Ave., are going fast. Of 200 available, 164 were sold as of last Friday.

Tickets are $150 per person or a corporate table can be had for $1,200. Call Lynda Falloon at 204-786-5741 ext. 243.

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Twitter: @metroWPG

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