Amanda Braet, Director of Development and Stewardship at Women’s Place, with the organization's electronic message thanking Diane and Greg Slaight for their gift. SUPPLIED

Gift from Greg and Diane Slaight will ensure expansions of programs to combat cycles of gender-based family violence

Niagara philanthropists Diane and Greg Slaight have brightened the prospects at yet another regional social agency.

Having recently donate $2 million dollars to Pathstone Mental Health, and another $2 million to United Way Niagara, the Slaights have enriched the fundraising coffers of Women’s Place of South Niagara, headquartered on McLeod Road in Niagara Falls, by a cool million.

Amanda Braet, Director of Development and Stewardship, told the Voice that the gift will allow the agency to continue and expand critical community prevention and public education programs regarding family violence in Niagara. Some monies are targeted for construction of an on-site pet shelter, allowing women and children in distress to take their beloved pets with them to the facility.

It is the largest one-time private gift Women’s Place has ever received.

Teresa Quinlin-Murphy, the board president at Women’s Place, said in a press release that, “When we talk about Women’s Place’s goals for the future, we often talk about two things: the importance of awareness and education programming in ending domestic and dating violence for good, and how we can improve the safety of women and children experiencing abuse in Niagara. With this generous gift, Greg and Diane Slaight have provided a unique opportunity to make great strides in achieving both goals. The impact of their gift will be felt for generations to come.”

The impact of their gift will be felt for generations to come

Quinlin-Murphy said that while the Slaights appreciate that they are in a privileged position financially, and that most people will never be capable of a million-dollar donation, they are hopeful that their act of benevolence will inspire others to become monthly donors, or provide other types of support to Women’s Place, which they characterize as “a safe haven for those in jeopardy, a wonderful facility that offers shelter, counselling, legal and emotional support.”

The Slaight funding will allow some new programming for men, “both for men who have been abused, and those identified as abusers who wish to make some changes to better themselves and protect others in the community,” said Braet.

The pet shelter on-site is an important piece that was previously missing, said Braet.

“Leaving an abusive relationship is often a dangerous situation, and quite often women won’t take the step without ensuring the welfare of their pets,” she said. “Plus, pets are an important source of comfort for women and their children during a very difficult time. Having the pet shelter here at Women’s Place is going to eliminate that barrier from families accessing our shelter. It’s going to keep people safe.”

We’ve had more than two dozen children under the age of ten, and thankfully received access to some backyard space due to the new sod that was laid

It has been a challenging summer for the agency.

“We’ve had more than two dozen children under the age of ten, and thankfully received access to some backyard space due to the new sod that was laid. Our shelter is full, and staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure that they’re meeting the needs of these families.”

Braet said that the shelter is currently housing some 40 women and children, but that funding is available for only 30 safe beds.

Statistics for 2020-21 indicate that 109 women and 66 children stayed in Women’s Place shelters, and 2,592 support calls were received.

The 24-hour Women’s Place confidential support hotline in Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Welland, Wainfleet, Port Colborne, and Pelham is 905-356-5800. For more information, go to womensplacesn.org