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Newmarket's sex assault crisis centre gets early Christmas gift

$2,000 Desjardins GoodSpark grant will help keep 24-hour crisis line staffed over holidays
20191217 wsn desjardins grant
Women's Support Network of York Region (WSN) supporter Nicole Craddock (from left), Suzanne Beauchamp, WSN executive director Jackie Benn-John, Samantha Gowda-Singh of Desjardins, and WSN's Heather Mort and Ashley Dunn celebrate the $2,000 Desjardins GoodSpark community grant delivered to the sexual violence crisis centre Dec. 17. Supplied photo/Women's Support Network of York Region

York Region’s only sexual violence crisis centre on Tuesday received a much needed cash infusion from the Desjardins GoodSpark community grants program that will help it keep its 24-hour crisis line staffed over the holidays for support and safety planning.

The $2,000 grant to the Women’s Support Network of York Region is especially appreciated during the holiday season, executive director Jackie Benn-John said.

"We are currently supporting 83 women in our individual counselling, case management and group counselling programs,” said Benn-John. “Many of these women and their families are in need of support this holiday season. When many services will close over the holidays, survivors can count on us."

Desjardins Aurora agent Samantha Gowda-Singh, who nominated the organization, visited the Stellar Drive facility to present the funds that will help survivors of sexual violence, commercial sex trafficking, and the agency’s prevention work through public education.

Gowda-Singh heard about the work being done at the crisis centre by Aurora resident Nicole Craddock, who organized a series of self-defence classes for girls and women in response to an armed daytime sex assault this summer of a young teen girl on a local trail. Craddock encouraged participants at this fall's sold-out classes to make a donation to the Newmarket organization.

The grant to the Newmarket-based organization was announced Dec. 3 by Desjardins Insurance, which coincided with the global movement known as Giving Tuesday.

In total, Desjardins awarded $271,000 in GoodSpark grants to 76 community organizations in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. 

The grants range between $2,000 and $5,500, and each includes a donation from a local Desjardins agent. Desjardins agents donated more than $73,000 of the $271,300.

This is the second year that Desjardins Insurance and the exclusive Desjardins Agent Network have teamed up to support Canadian communities. In 2018, a total of $190,000 was given to community initiatives in the three provinces where Desjardins Insurance offices are located.

It’s not too late to support the Women’s Support Network of York Region (WSN) this Christmas. 

Here’s how you can make the holidays brighter for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking:

  • Make a one-time gift 
  • Become a WSN Hope Builder and commit to a monthly gift
  • Donate items to survivors through WSN’s Our Community Cares holiday program
  • Put together an emergency bag for survivors, including such items at toiletries, clothing, pajamas and undergarments, gift cards, used cellphone in working condition, feminine hygience products, purse, wallet, towel, and more.
For more information, visit here, call 905-895-3646 or email

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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