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Lacombe non-profit celebrates a year helping women in need

The Broom Tree Foundation has focused on mentoring women in Central Alberta
The board supporting The Broom Tree Foundation, Tamara Noordhof, Donna Abma, Becky Kooiker, Janis Butcher and Corey Gish. (Photo Submitted)

By Kevin J Sabo

For the Lacombe Express

A Lacombe not for profit is celebrating one year since its official opening, and has big plans moving forward.

Incorporated Jan. 3, 2020, the goal of the organization is to support women in need in the Lacombe region.

“We’ve done a lot of work mentoring and walking with women and their families in the community, and central Alberta,” said Broom Tree Foundation Executive Director Donna Abma.

“The Broom Tree Foundation was borne out of that to take things to the next level.”

During the first year of the organization, the group has focused on mentoring women, as well as helping connect them to other community, social, and mental health services. This program, known as the Bridges Program, is just the first of three separate components that the foundation is currently developing.

“With the Bridges a program, a woman who needs help and support, she can contact the foundation. We take them in, listen to their story, and set up resources for them, or get them in touch with people they need,” said Abma.

The community-based program did see the women meeting as a group on a weekly basis, with them taking part in workshops, as well as organizers helping address their needs, such as groceries, housing, and mental health. Since the pandemic started, they have had to change their approach, with the organizers of the foundation instead regularly meeting with the women one on one.

The second program being developed by the foundation, and scheduled to open later in 2021, is the Café Program. The plan is for the group to open a breakfast café where women needing help with work-experience would be able to be employed.

“It will be a very simple menu,” said Abma.

“It will be someplace we can employ these women if they need work-experience or mentorship. All proceeds will go directly back into the foundation and the programs.”

In addition to the café being opened, Adma hopes to partner with other local businesses to help women in their care get the mentorship and work-experience they need.

The third program being developed by the Broom tree Foundation is a transitional housing program.

“If we have a mom that needs housing, we want to be able to do that for them,” said Abma.

Currently, the long-term plan is for the group to purchase housing that would suit the needs of their clients, however in the mean-time plans are still being discussed.

“We may subsidize rent, or help them look for affordable housing,” said Abma.

“We’re generally going to walk with them, help them with employment and budgeting. We hope to help for six months to a year, and hopefully by that time they have a solid foundation.”

Abma stresses that their doors are open to any women who need help.

“Each story is an individual story,” said Abma.

“Whether they need employment, or want to go back to school, all that is looked into, without judgement.”

The Broom Tree Foundation is a not-for-profit, funded through donations. Donations can be made on their website, Women needing support from the foundation can contact the foundation through their website, or through their Facebook page.