Yellow Brick House’s Second Shelter from the Storm
“It was way overdue,” says Vivian Risi, president and broker of record of Royal LePage – Your Community Reality, and chair of YBH’s Second Shelter – Second Chances Capital Campaign. She explains how the original site – which has served the community for over 30 years – was performing admirably, considering its modest resources. Despite its welcoming nature, the shelter had no choice but to turn away over 500 women and children every year because of its limited capacity. “They couldn’t house them, they couldn’t help them, because they were always full.”
A tragic situation, but Risi was determined to change this by raising awareness and funds. To meet the project’s financial needs, she led the YBH’s capital campaign to raise $4 million to fund a second location. Through meetings with ministry officials, examining over 30 possible locations and various fund-raising events, including the annual Royal LePage – Your Community Realty Golf Tournament, Risi was firm with meeting both the monetary needs and regulatory criteria; objectives diligently met.
Since opening its doors, the response has been astounding. “The day after the announcement of its opening, the shelter was already full,” says Risi, who was awarded with Richmond Hill’s The Mayor’s Award for Business Excellence for her contribution to industry, as well as community service. “And it’s a big shelter. The need, can you imagine?” The building’s first floor is named after Risi for her exceptional efforts.
She describes its atmosphere as positive, reassuring and comforting. A decorator volunteered her time, filling the shelter’s interior with uplifting colours and a welcoming décor. Qualified councillors are also on-hand to help domestic abuse victims through their ordeals. “It’s not just a shelter,” says Risi, who will be honoured as a community builder at YBH’s 7th annual Mending Hearts … Creating Dreams gala this April. “The shelter is there to help council, educate, put women back on their feet, build their self-esteem back up and get them out there looking for jobs so that they can be self-sufficient. They also council children who have had their spirits broken.”
But for Risi, opening the second location is just one step in an ongoing journey. “Now it’s about keeping the shelters operating properly.” For those who wish to get involved, there are plenty of options. Donations are always welcomed, and volunteering is greatly appreciated. “I tell my family and friends: ‘I don’t want gifts any more, I don’t need presents. Donate.’”