SARA for Women: Support, Acceptance, Resources, Action
Our Mission: We are a feminist non-profit society providing safe refuge and community-based resources for women in Mission and Abbotsford. We promote and support women’s efforts to achieve domestic, political, and social equality.
SARA for Women: mission, vision, and philosophy
We are a feminist society providing safe refuge and community-based resources for women and children. We promote and support women’s efforts to achieve domestic, political, and social equality.
SARA for Women is a leader in creating a world where people peacefully resolve conflict in their homes. Through innovative programs, diversity practices, social enterprise, and partnerships we build community capacity for spiritual, physical, and emotional growth, through social responsibility in harmony with the environment.
Women have the right to political, economic, and social equality.
- Women who have experienced violence and other forms of abuse are essential allies in the work of program development, public education, and social change.
- Women and children have the right to live free from violence and other forms of abuse.
- Women have the right to reproductive choice.
- Women’s experiences, voices, and wisdom are unique and vital resources to society.
- Women are oppressed because they are women. Additionally, they experience racism and other forms of oppression based on ethnicity, class, culture, sexual orientation, spirituality, age, ability, as well as on physical and psychological characteristics.
- Women’s empowerment and liberation is strengthened by solidarity among women.
HERSTORY: The history of SARA for Women
SARA for Women, formerly known as the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley (WRSFV) has a history steeped in grassroots action that has allowed it to grow from a handful of concerned women into a multi-layered, equality seeking, and anti-violence organization with sites in Mission and Abbotsford dedicated to helping women experiencing violence and marginalization.
In 1975, women all over the country were gathering in small groups called consciousness raising groups. These groups were based on the belief that women’s empowerment is strengthened through solidarity between women. Themes like gender socialization, sexualisation of the female body, division of labour, and the dynamics of abuse were concerns that brought women together. It was in this atmosphere that a handful of women in Mission established a discussion and social action group; they called their group Fronya. For the next seven years, Fronya operated a small women’s centre on Seventh Avenue in Mission staffed by volunteers and funded by donations.
In 1982, the group decided to focus their energy into establishing a Mission Transition House for women that was opened in 1984. The first transition house was operated entirely by volunteer labour and donations until 1985, when provincial funding was received for three part-time staff limited operating costs.
Four years later in 1989, provincial and federal funds became available to open and operate a twelve-bed shelter for abused women in Abbotsford. To accommodate the expanded service, the name of the society was then changed to the Central Valley Transition House Society.
In 1992, as provincial governments were pushed to recognize that violence against women was a community responsibility, financial support was increased. Subsequently, the Abbotsford Women’s Support Services office was opened for women who needed support and information. The following year, Mission Women’s Support Services began offering group and individual support for women who had been victims of incest, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
In 1993 the Society began hosting the Baby’s Best Chance program (designed to support women experiencing a high risk pregnancy) as well as Children Who Witness Abuse programs in Abbotsford and Mission. In order to reflect the wider array of programs offered, the society name was then changed to the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley.
A new program, the Warm Zone, opened in 2009. WRSFV staff were aware of the need for services designed specifically for women living and working on the streets of Abbotsford and Mission. They initiated a research committee to reach out to street-entrenched women during the fall of 2006, approaching women, inviting their engagement, and asking them what kinds of supports and services would meet their needs best. Next they secured funding; the Warm Zone has successfully operated in Abbotsford since 2009.
In 2017 the WEAVE project was initiated for women who want to leave the sex trade operates out of the Warm Zone and is a collaboration of three agencies: the lead organization is The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver (EFry) that is acting as the contracted service provider in a three agency delivery model: (EFRY, Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) and SARA for women (SARA).
In 2017, the name of the Society was changed to the SARA for Women Society. SARA stands for Support, Acceptance, Resources, Action. No four words can encompass everything we now do at SARA, but the new brand is more modern, upbeat, and optimistic as we’re still all about empowering women and solidarity with women. Now, when women call us, or we call them, the name SARA will pop up on their call display. SARA is the name of another friend, a neutral word that won’t tip off abusers. SARA now runs nine sites. Learn more about SARA’s services here.
“My personal philosophy of inclusiveness and accessibility of women as full citizens of the community has truly been a calling for me, and 20 years later this path (supporting women in need) still fills my heart with fire of passion, focus and energy. I know, for the rest of my life, this path will continue to be the path of Feminine Healing and standing for the women who are victims of abuse and violence.”
Monika Verma, Executive Director