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This article was published 11/10/2010 (3288 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Three days each week, Eileen Saunders and Oveen Kaner help one of the most vulnerable yet brave segments of Winnipeg's population.
The two North End residents volunteer at Oyate Tipi Cumini Yape, a non-profit organization that provides household goods and furniture to women and their children escaping poverty or leaving an abusive home.
The women say many clients have fled living situations with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Often, without a stable place to live, some of these women return to unhealthy relationships.
Oyate Tipi aims to prevent that by ensuring women have all they need to provide for their families. Women accessing resources or participating in programming at one of 10 community-based organizations can be referred to Oyate Tipi for help.
"It's a very good cause," said Kaner, a 73-year-old great-grandmother. "... years ago there wasn't anything like that to help people out from abusive homes. It's not only helping them out — it makes them feel better. It's helping the women get settled. "
While at Oyate Tipi, Kaner and Saunders spend their days sorting and laundering donated goods — towels, sheets and clothing — preparing them for the clients. After the laundry is all done, they help out the other volunteers, sorting items such as dishes, cutlery and other kitchen items.
Women and their children arrive on Thursdays to pick out their items, ready to make a fresh start. Kaner said she takes great joy in seeing the children get excited about choosing new toys.
Saunders, a great-grandmother who has also volunteered with the North End Women's Centre, adds that the organization tries to provide little extras to women - to not only raise their spirits but make their adjustment less stressful.
If you would like more information or would like to become a volunteer with Oyate Tipi, please call 589-2218 or visit the organization online at www.oyatetipi.com. To arrange a donation of furniture or household goods call 589-2265.
If you know a special volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at email@example.com