OHSWEKEN – Sometimes all it takes is a small team with big hearts to start a chain of reactions that can make a difference within a community. Aileen Black, sales and business development co-ordinator for Sodexo and communications chair of WiLL, heard that Ganohkwásrâ Family Assault Support Services (GFASS) needed women’s toiletry and hygienic products
OHSWEKEN – Sometimes all it takes is a small team with big hearts to start a chain of reactions that can make a difference within a community.
Aileen Black, sales and business development co-ordinator for Sodexo and communications chair of WiLL, heard that Ganohkwásrâ Family Assault Support Services (GFASS) needed women’s toiletry and hygienic products to give to women in its shelter, and began thinking of how she could help.
“We wanted to help a women’s group in need and also wanted to support Aboriginal relations in some way,” said Black. “Through a little bit of research I found out that this organization [GFASS] could really use some help.”
Black worked with one of Sodexo’s employee resource groups called WiLL, which stands for Women in Leadership and Learning, to gather donations from individuals within the group. Together they accumulated more than 300 items to give to GFASS.
“To the people that we serve, this donation is so important,” said Sandra Montour, executive director of GFASS. “Especially for people who are fleeing violence, or who are starting their lives over again with nothing — it’s just one less thing they have to worry about.”
GFASS is an organization in Ohsweken that respects the community’s traditional roles as Onkwehon:we women, men and children — upholding the principles of the importance of family. It recognizes the existence and devastation of family violence and sexual assault, and accepts the responsibility to support victims in time of crisis to provide shelter, support and counselling. They offer shelter for women, but also for men.
“What makes us special is our unique philosophy,” said Montour. “We’re very holistic in how we work with people.”
GFASS tries very hard to help individuals heal on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, hoping to stabilize their current situations by the time they head out on their own again.
Black chose GFASS as the focus of her support because she felt that small, more local shelters likely receive less attention from donors sometimes. Also, because Sodexo partners with more than 40 First Nation’s groups across Canada, she saw opportunity for a great partnership.
“I know of a lot of women support group shelters in the Hamilton and Burlington area that receive a lot of help, and perhaps this one doesn’t,” said Black. “WiLL believes in supporting aboriginals and we wanted to incorporate a donation that would include all in need —women, aboriginals, local community members and more.”
Black’s assumption is correct — not being an incorporated First Nations agency, GFASS does not have the wide range of sponsors and partnerships available to them that other Canadian agencies do.
“As a First Nations agency we are not incorporated,” said Montour. “Which eliminates a lot of sponsors for us, so the donation from you [Sodexo] is greatly appreciated and we can’t wait to share it with those that need it.”
Sodexo is an international company that works in the facilities management sector and provides things like food, housekeeping and building maintenance for hospitals, universities, corporate buildings, the government and more.