ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Mark Dec. 12 down on the calendar as the date to recognize and thank a woman who has done a lot for Antigonish and the surrounding area; and help celebrate the organization she worked so tirelessly for.
An open house for Lucille Harper and the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC) Sexual Assault Services Association (SASA) will take place at the centre from 1 to 3 p.m. The centre is located in the Kirk Building, at 219 Main Street in Antigonish, suite 204.
“Join us for refreshments as we celebrate 35 years of the AWRC SASA’s work in our community, and Lucille’s 30 years of leading that work,” a poster promoting the event reads.
“As a community, I think we’ve been very fortunate to have the women’s centre as part of our community, and certainly to have Lucille and the incredible work she has been doing; it’s a great opportunity to recognize that,” Wyanne Sandler, who has started the transition of taking over Harper’s executive director role, said.
“Lucille and I have been, sort of, in a transition period,” she said. “We’ve been working side-by-side since September; it has been great to have this opportunity to work alongside her and ease that transition.”
Sandler has held different positions with AWRC SASA. Her most recent was immigration/newcomer support co-ordinator.
She noted the open house will be a good opportunity to have AWRC SASA’s community partners gather.
“Community partners and the people who have been involved in supporting [our] work over the years,” she said. “We’ve sent out invitations, far and wide, to people who have been involved in the work over the years.
“The work that has happened over the 35 years has been really incredible and certainly the women’s centre has grown from a very small organization to a much larger one. We’ve played a central role in many different initiatives getting started in the community; we have really grown from a staff of one or two people to now 20.”
Sandler called it an “exciting” time for the centre with a lot of opportunities to continue providing needed services.
“We have a really wonderful team of women who work here so, for me, I feel very fortunate to be involved in this organization and work with the women I do,” she said.
Exciting … and challenging.
“I feel there are always challenges,” she said.
“There are the challenges the women in the community we work with experience. We continue to see women accessing our services who are dealing with violence; survivors of sexual violence, that has been an area where we really expanded our services over the last number of years.
“As well as women who are dealing with poverty; we continue to work on those fronts and it’s always challenging.
“We continue to have that commitment to meet those challenges and work with the women who use the centre and are part of the centre. We continue to do the community development work, the advocacy work and community building work I think we’re recognized for.”
Sandler noted AWRC SASA has a strong online presence.
“People are always welcomed to drop in and we’re online; we have a website (awrcsasa.ca), Facebook, Instagram and we’re really encouraging everyone, who is interested in celebrating and recognizing Lucille’s work over the last 30 years as well as the work of the women’s centre, to join us on Dec. 12 for the open house.”