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Mortgage burning means happier days for Bay St. George Status of Women

Joyce Hancock, left, one of the founding members of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council and who was its first executive director serving for 11 years, and Janice Kennedy, the current executive director, burn the mortgage for the Women's Centre on St. Clare Avenue in Stephenville, which was paid off this week.
Joyce Hancock, left, one of the founding members of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council and who was its first executive director serving for 11 years, and Janice Kennedy, the current executive director, burn the mortgage for the Women's Centre on St. Clare Avenue in Stephenville, which was paid off this week. - Frank Gale

As the mortgage for their women’s centre was going up in flames, Janice Kennedy was thinking what a relief it was for them to be able to fund programs because of it.

The current executive director of the Bay St. George Women’s Council said had it not been paid off, executive members would have had some difficult decisions to make.

“It’s a happy time for us and it’s amazing to think of the work that has been done in this building throughout the years and continues to take place,” Kennedy said on Thursday after executive members did a happy dance during the mortgage burning.

Joyce Hancock, one of the founding members of the Bay St. George Women’s Council and who was executive director for 11 years, said that many years ago working on issues of equality and anti-violence was seen as radical.

“But to see today it’s acceptable when women speak about it, and it’s now seen as work that needs to be done. It’s embedded in the community here,” she told the group on hand for the mortgage burning celebration.

She said the group had to put aside that kind of money every year to pay the mortgage, but now it’s their building and it’s about saying what they want to do and setting their own agenda.

Hancock said that for her, with her sister Bernice Hancock involved with the organization in Stephenville for more than two decades, there are all kinds of personal goals for women working for equality and anti-violence.

She said the shelter in the women’s centre is fittingly called Karen’s Place in honour of Karen Decker, who helped start the centre.

“That’s something I thought about a lot today,” Hancock said.

She said the celebration of the mortgage burning, which took place on International Women’s Day, was almost an unfolding of the years.

“When you look at the number of women that are part of the Me Too movement, the foundations of this were laid in the ’80s and ’90s, resulting in a lot more respect for women in the community,” Hancock said.

Kennedy said it feels amazing to think about the fact that so many women back in 1991, when the building was purchased, put their faith in the Bay St. George Status of Women, and that it would still be around.

“And it is,” she added.

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