Women’s Shelter offers hope

Of her time at the shelter, Woelders remembers it as “lifesaving.”

Colleen Woelders understands from first-hand experience how the Kelowna Women’s Shelter services can help turn your life around.

Hairstylist Colleen Woelders arrived in Kelowna on a bus from Vancouver Island 15 years ago, with a dislocated and broken shoulder and her eight-month-old son in her arms.

She was exhausted and terrified, having finally gathered the courage to leave her partner after another violent attack.

“He used to take the steel-toed boots to me, and he had kicked me several times in the past. This time I decided I had enough and reached out for help,” she recalled.

A counsellor from the Kelowna Women’s Shelter picked her and her infant son up at the bus station, and brought them back to the shelter, where Woelders could finally get some rest.

“I had been awake all night. Just the feeling of being in a safe place with my son, where I could get some sleep and start to gather my strength gave me such a sense of relief that I could breathe and finally start to heal,” she said.

In the coming weeks, Woelders cried a lot of tears, attended countless individual and group counselling sessions, and started to realize she didn’t have to protect her abuser anymore.

“I was so brainwashed, fearful, tired and beaten down,” she explained.

“The counsellors at the shelter were so amazing, and it was powerful to go from being so controlled and dependent on him to becoming a stronger and more independent woman.”

One day during her stay at the shelter, she saw an employment posting for a hairdresser, and bravely walked in and applied for the job.

Fifteen years later, Woelders owns and operates her own business, Kelowna Hair Design, and gives back by training high school students, offering special needs employment opportunities, and providing free services to Kelowna Women’s Shelter clients.

“I know what it feels like to be in that situation. I will always have my chair open for that emergency colour for the girl that’s running and hiding. I will step up and help her change her appearance and do what I can to keep her safe and feeling good about herself.”

Of her time at the shelter, Woelders remembers it as “lifesaving,” saying if she can help one woman make the decision to leave an abusive relationship by speaking out about her experience it is worth it.

“I want women who are in this situation to know if they can face their fears and gather the courage to reach out for help, there is a better, brighter, happier future ahead, and life can be wonderful.”

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter is a non-profit organization that offers emergency transitional housing, counseling, support and education to women and their children who have experienced abuse. For more information, or to make a donation, visit kelownawomensshelter.ca or call 250-763-1040.


Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Lake Country couple to be recognized with heritage award

James, Anita Baker will receive the Central Okanagan Heritage Society’s Distinguished Service Award

Flipped car snarls Kelowna rush hour traffic

North-bound traffic on Highway 97 backed up Monday afternoon

Suspect in West Kelowna home break-ins apprehended

Police say 31-year-old West Kelowna man is in custody and is also wanted on Canada-wide warrants

UPDATE: Kelowna snowboarder being mourned at Big White

He was a local snowboarder, who went to Rutland high school.

Hope raises thousands for two Kelowna charities

The event Hope in Her Eyes managed to raise more than $17,000 for two Kelowna non-profits

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

NDP Health Minister calls to offer woman seat on Interior Health Board

Joyce Beddow-Buckland of Ashcroft was surprised by the call, and accepted the offer.

No decision yet from Sagmoen bail hearing

Provincial court judge is expected to decide next week if Silver Creek man to remain in custody

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Vagina Monologues hits the Kelowna stage this week

Okanagan production set to target a hot topic: vaginas

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

Submit nominations for 2018 Okanagan College Alumni Awards

Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, March 14

Most Read