First Christian Reformed Church in Owen Sound, Ontario, is there to help women in the community develop a variety of skills—from home organization to budgeting, meal planning, or starting a home business.
Volunteers from the church run a 12-week Home with a Heart program. Women can learn more about cooking, parenting, finding work, and more. “It’s been a very rewarding program,” said volunteer and coordinator Ada Haasnoot. She went on to talk about some of the program’s success stories: “One [woman] went back to college and got a job once her kids were in school. Others also got jobs after the course—it becomes an incentive to take the course.”
Haasnoot said the church community has been very supportive, providing childcare and snacks each week, planning the twice-per-year course, and ordering supplies. The church has been running the program, free to participants, since 2006. Haasnoot and other volunteers speak at women’s groups, food banks, and other places to connect with women who might benefit from the program. Five young mothers from the community are currently enrolled.
Other churches and community resources in Owen Sound have contributed to the program in the form of quilts, food, clothing, and counseling services for people with specific needs. Churches in other communities are also taking interest in the program and are beginning to set up programs of their own through Home with a Heart.
New challenges for the future, said Haasnoot, are finding a program suitable for dads and possibly setting up mentorship between each participant and a woman in the church.