Fleeing from abuse women find self-worth in the YWCA

Photo by Shanelle Somers

Debra Mattson of the YWCA shows off the inside of Adelaide's Attic.

Located in Oshawa’s YWCA Durham, is a little vintage store named Adelaide’s Attic. Ironically the attic is located in the basement.

Adelaide’s Attic located at 33 McGrigor Street Oshawa Ont. is staffed by female volunteers who have received help and guidance from YWCA Durham.

The YWCA Durham works to build self-worth in abused women through volunteer opportunities.

Domestic abuse within Durham Region has been rising over the years.

According to Wendy Leeder, co-executive and shelter services director of the YWCA Durham, Durham Regional Police Services are responding to about 22 domestic abuse calls a day.

The second-hand store is not only making a profit but, it is transforming the lives of Oshawa women fleeing abuse.


Photo by Shanelle Somers

The entrance to Adelaide’s Attic located in the basement.


The vintage clothing and houseware store allows women to buy what they need at a reasonable price. Adelaide’s Attic also provides the opportunity for women to gain retail and customer service experience.

They are not paid, but in return for their hours, they are given gift cards to use at Adelaide’s Attic towards their needed purchases.

Debra Mattson, manager of communications and fund developer at the YWCA, says the goods within the store are only about one to two dollars each.

In 2016, Adelaide’s Attic – which is open eight hours per week – supported 1,976 volunteer hours.

 “Our number one goal is to empower people and for them to have their own voice. That’s the mission of the work that we do,” says Leeder.

This non-for-profit organization also offers a women-only emergency shelter called Y’s WISH Shelter, recreational programs, an EarlyON Centre for children up to the age of six, interim second stage housing, counselling, and volunteer positions.

The YWCA has recognized a need for a 24-hour emergency shelter equipped with trained counsellors on staff, long-term mentorship support and outreach programs.

Unfortunately, the YWCA Durham needs the community’s help more than ever to continue its efforts in helping abused women and their children.

Donations account for 80 per cent of the YWCA’s operational costs, according to Leeder.

But, donations are down considerably, she says, adding the YWCA needs more funds to keep up their building maintenance and run other services.

“Money is the thing all charities are competing for,” says Leeder. But, the YWCA is hoping that their current ‘Love Shouldn’t Hurt’ campaign will help with their finances. It is a national campaign for YWCA that will be launched shortly.

But Leeder says individuals often open their chequebooks and help the YWCA.

“Someone donated $15,000 recently. That was enough to cover our entire grocery budget for one year,” says Leeder.

They hope the new campaign will provide more opportunities and support for women who have experienced abuse and for women who have already gone through the most traumatic part of their journey.

If you would like to get involved or donate money to help finance their efforts, visit www.ywca.org.