In recognition of YWCA Metro Vancouver’s 125th anniversary in 2022, we recently launched The Next 125, a bold new initiative to meet the growing needs of our region. As part of The Next 125, we are hosting a series of intimate salons, where experts share insights on key community issues that are reflected in the YWCA’s work.
Over the past year, we have welcomed speakers such as Ellen Woodsworth, Cleta Brown and Dr. Deepa Narayan who have shared their insights and expertise on topics ranging from women in politics, to inclusive cities, to gender-based violence.
We held our third Salon on October 23 at the home of a long-time supporter. Hosted by YWCA CEO Deb Bryant, the evening’s dialogue centered around the spirit of generosity. We were honoured to welcome Women of Distinction Award recipient Mary-Jo Dionne, a copywriter, strategist, comedian and recipient of the Governor General's Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers.
With humour and wisdom, Mary-Jo shared her experiences being raised by a forward-thinking single mother who inspired her own spirit of generosity. “I was raised by a single mom, who I don’t want to say tricked me—but she led me to believe, through the entirety of my formative years, that we were very, very wealthy when, at the time, we were the opposite.”
Mary-Jo spoke about her mother’s magic for altering the realities of their lives. Tasks like lugging groceries home on their sled in the snow became “adventures.” Simple taco dinners on a picnic blanket on their living room floor became special treats, where she was reminded that she was the only one of her friends “getting to eat dinner in Mexico that night.” And she believed her.
Her mother showed her that not only were they in a position to take care of themselves, they could help take care of others. “Giving didn’t deprive us, it infused us.” She told the closely gathered group that “the great myth in society is that abundance must precede generosity, and it is, in fact, the opposite.”
We also heard from Maria, Community Kitchen Coordinator at YWCA Crabtree Corner, who last year oversaw more than 23,000 meals prepared and served to community members in the Downtown Eastside. Maria spoke about her own enthusiasm to give back and how it allows her to connect with whomever comes into her kitchen. “My passion is to get moms to come in, and each and every day to try to build relationships. When their bellies are full, they’re happy and I’m happy. [I’ve seen] moms who come from so many extreme hardships in their lives [who eventually end up] volunteering in the kitchen”.
The Next 125 campaign is engaging women and allies through events, volunteerism and storytelling. To date, we have raised $8.8 million towards our $10 million goal. New and increased campaign gifts of $25,000 or more will be matched up to $1 million through funding from a generous anonymous donor.