“When we help women, we help the entire family”: A Message From Gyda, former PIRS President and Chair of the Board of Directors

Our PIRS community is so grateful and lucky to have volunteers, donors, and mentors who have been with us since the beginning, and we love learning from their stories and wisdom!

Gyda became connected to PIRS over forty years ago, when PIRS was based in the Strathcona area, because of her background in Early Childhood Education and her passion for social justice initiatives in her community. She is a former PIRS President and Chair of the Board of Directors, and volunteered with PIRS on the leadership level for over 40 years. In the early days of PIRS, many women who wanted to participate in programs were not able to because of a lack of access to childcare. Gyda helped integrate education with childcare so that women could attend language and leadership classes while their preschool children were being safely cared for in the same building. Forty years later, accessible and affordable childcare remains a cornerstone of all PIRS programs.

Gyda shared that one of her favourite aspects of PIRS as a smaller organization is that “the relationships are much more intimate the participants really come to know the various staff and instructors and outreach workers.”

“Always and forever, the support that we can give to refugee families and their children is one of the most extraordinary, critical, and important things that we can devote ourselves to,” because “when we help the women, we are helping the family.”