The Women in Need Society (WINS) started as a thrift store charity with the mission to connect women and their families with the resources to have more abundant lives. Moving beyond their retail front, WINS has expanded to establish Community Resource Hubs, which offers support groups and skill-building workshops. Through their programs and thrift store outlets, WINS tackles accessibility needs in clothing, houseware and offers ways to close the gender gap in Calgary’s tech industry. Joan Barredo, Marketing and Communications Generalist, discussed some ways WINS is trying to close the equity gap.

Joan Barredo, Marketing and Communications Generalist, WINS.

What do you feel are the types of things your organization is doing that are the most innovative in creating equitable communities?

One of the goals that we have identified from our participants, or the people who come to our doors and ask for help, is the need to learn basic technical skills. One of them is computer programming or coding. With that need, we addressed it by launching a program called Youth Coding Club. This is a four week program inviting girls and gender diverse girls to learn basic coding concepts and languages so that we can close gender gaps in the tech industry.

Who or what do you feel hinders the progress towards achieving equitable communities? 

I would say accessibility, there is the gap between technological literacy versus traditional literacy. Most of the people that we work with are immigrants, or first time families. If things get really overwhelming, having to learn technical stuff and information on top of what all those everyday responsibilities look like, it’s a little bit challenging for them.

What parts of the city do you see as being the most vulnerable?

I would say families in need are like, and they are spread across this city right now. Most of them are finding a little bit of difficulty when it comes to transportation.

Who else do you feel is doing innovative work improving the well-being of communities? Who do you think we should talk to, and may we use your name in reaching out to other organizations?

One, I think one of the most important partners that we do have is Calgary Housing. We work closely with them for our Community Resource Hubs. So they’re the ones who help us recognize which areas are in dire need, or how many families in that particular area are actually  in need of support.


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