History of AWAC
Association Advocating for Women and Community was founded in 1994 by a small group of community activists and social service providers in Prince George. At the time that AWAC was founded the organization was named “Association Advocating for Women and Children” The group was responding to an identified need for more accessible and appropriate services for street-involved women and female youth. The Quebec street twenty-four-hour shelter was opened in 1995 after securing a very small contract with the provincial government and donations of money, time, and materials. The emergency shelter program was created to be very flexible, with minimum rules and barriers. In our fourth year of service, AWAC began its outreach program in 1999 with one outreach worker, since then the program has since grown to be a nine member outreach team and is a key part of our services today. The program has grown into an important resource and is a key part of our services today. In August of 2004 AWAC moved into a new building located on George Street, with funding from several federal, provincial, and other granting organizations. Soon after in 2007 AWAC created its Housing Readiness program in response to the recurring pattern of women repeatedly returning to services due to lack of safe, affordable housing. The program provides women with a safe living environment, where they learn the skills needed to live more independently. In 2010 AWAC opened its Supported Recovery program to support women who were starting to embark on their own unique journey of sobriety. The program provides women with shelter while providing a foundation to begin to identify needs and goals and continue to strengthen and develop life skills. AWAC recognized that women graduating from the Housing Readiness program were sometimes not ready to live entirely independently and may continue to require supports. As a result, in 2015 AWAC, in partnership with BC Housing, started the Victoria Towers program which provided women with a bachelor or one-bedroom style unit at a subsidized cost with less intensive supports in place. In 2016, AWAC secured a contract with the federal government to start the Housing First program. It was at this time that outreach services opened to all genders. The Housing First program offered supports to individuals who were living in chronic or episodic homelessness and who were enthralled in addictions. Housing First operated on the mandate that individuals would be supported with a client-centered approach to find and secure housing, with supports to follow. Outreach staff would provide individuals participating in the program with supports to attain sobriety and continue to build on life skills. In 2019, AWAC developed a sober living transitional housing program named Olive’s Branch as a response to an identified need in the community for people who wanted to attain a life of sobriety and wellness. This program was designed for individuals to provide them with a foundation to grow stronger in their sobriety and be supported to reintegrate into society.
Over the years, AWAC has been fortunate to develop relationships with many incredible individuals. We have witnessed their amazing strength, resilience, and dedication, in the face of circumstances that no one should ever have to endure. Many individuals have moved on to a happier life; sadly, many have been lost. AWAC continues to open our doors to new faces and old, in the belief that each one has the possibility of a brighter future. Our hope is that, as a society, we will learn to do a much better job of caring for individuals who are 'walking in the shadows.'