For many of us, holidays are a time of togetherness. Of abundance. Of belonging. But last Christmas, Andrea* had fallen on devastating times. Andrea came to Bracebridge a year ago, on Christmas Day, traumatized, knowing no one and without any of her personal possessions—not even a purse.

At a time of year when everyone should feel they belong, Andrea was without even the most basic of belongings. We all know how it feels to lose our purse or wallet—that feeling of panic when our most essential items for day-to-day life are misplaced. Andrea had no bank card or access to financial resources. No phone with family and friend connections. No keys to safe shelter or to a car for mobility.

Being a resourceful woman, Andrea confided in a downtown business owner who recommended she call YWCA Muskoka. When she walked through our doors, she found the support of a community made of people like you.

Andrea’s journey: a turning point

Upon her arrival, a YWCA Muskoka team member sat with Andrea; we listened and came to know her story. In the midst of cooking a beautiful Christmas dinner and waiting for her guests to arrive, Andrea was faced with violence and had to flee her home immediately, with only the clothes on her back. She had no family support and no one else she could trust or count on. Andrea was lucky enough to secure a bed at a local shelter and then connect with YWCA Muskoka where her healing could begin.

With time, Andrea began YWCA wellness programs and began to make use of the Gathering Space—a safe drop-in where she could access telephone and internet. She knew she could lean on YWCA Muskoka for support whenever needed.

We see women like Andrea all the time at YWCA Muskoka—resilient women who have fallen on hard times and are in need of extra support. In fact, women in rural communities, like Muskoka, are at increased risk because they are more isolated than in larger cities.

Over the past year, Andrea has developed effective strategies that have given her the ability to rise up and out of the darkness she was experiencing. With courage, she became involved in the community; she picked up small jobs to support herself and just recently she found somewhere to live. All of which terrified her when she first arrived at our door.

Because of donors like you who believe our communities need the YWCA, Andrea has found her place within the community. She has gone from a woman who arrived in Muskoka without even a purse to someone with a thriving network of social connection. Andrea belongs.

There are many more women like Andrea here in Muskoka. Now more than ever, it is essential for YWCA rural women’s services and programs to continue.

This Christmas, you can celebrate the importance of belonging alongside friends and family this holiday season by giving an opportunity to more women in our community who need a safe place to go and a way forward.

Support the continuation of rural women’s services and local community programs

This Christmas, our goal is to raise $18,000, which will help continue our programs for women in Muskoka. Since YWCA Muskoka the only organization currently running these important services, your generous donation will have tremendous impact:

$30 is enough to bring two women together in a supportive, safe environment to make a plan their personal and professional development.
$100 provides a program instructor for a few precious hours to teach women how manage life transitions and develop resiliency. Transitions like unemployment; starting a business; adjusting to a new community; becoming a sole-support parent or just longing to move forward along a personal journey.
$900 gives a woman a new lease on life. Thirty classroom hours of valuable opportunity for learning and growth to develop healthy communication, identify personal strengths and build skills, knowledge and networks all in the comfort of a confidential group of women.

Andrea’s purse is full again. This year, she has an invitation to Christmas dinner and will be surrounded by the warmth and love of people who care about her. And she’ll be spending the holiday season with keys to an apartment of her own, where she belongs.

Thank you so much for supporting women in Muskoka—for your understanding and compassion. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and valued. Wishing you and your loved ones a warm, safe holiday and the very best for the New Year.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy




440 Ecclestone Dr.
Bracebridge, ON