Interview with Alyson Pizzey, Executive Director
Can you tell me a little bit about how and why your organization began?
Liberty Lane Inc. was founded in 1993 to address the lack of safe, affordable housing and support services in the Fredericton area for women and their children leaving abusive relationships. Safe, affordable housing and support services to facilitate healing is critical to attaining a life free of violence. The organization was incorporated in March of 1993 and received charitable status in June of 1993.
Liberty Lane purchased an 8-unit apartment building and in November 1993 the first residents moved in to our Second Stage Housing Facility. The 7 x 2-bedroom apartments provided self-contained living for Moms and their children. The 1 x 4-bedroom unit was used as shared living for women without children.
Following this, Liberty Lane Inc. secured rent subsidies for each of the apartments under the Provincial Social Housing Rent Supplement Assistance Program. The program helps eligible households by subsidizing rents based on 30% of adjusted household income.
Has the organization grown significantly since it began?
Liberty Lane’s Second Stage Housing Program had 2 employees, the Executive Director and a Resident Support Worker. In 2004 an Outreach Program, providing support services to women in the community who experienced domestic violence was then developed adding a further employee to the team.
The Outreach Program serves the Greater Fredericton area, over a 100km radius with a population of 145,000. Areas covered include McAdam, Nackawic, Boiestown, Chipman, Cambridge Narrows, Gagetown, Oromocto, Tracy and everything in between. In 2010 a second Outreach Worker was employed, taking the Liberty Lane team to 4.
In 2018, further to a successful capital campaign, Liberty Lane was able to build a new and bigger facility closer to the resources needed by those seeking second stage housing and Outreach services. 10 new apartments, including 4 x 1-bedroom, one of which is accessible, 4 x 2-bedroom and 2 x 3-bedroom apartments were built, and an office building refurbished to create a laundry room, community room, playroom, resource area and 6 offices
In 2020, we added a third Outreach Worker to our Outreach Program, and in 2021 we employed our Child Guidance Coordinator to develop a new Children’s Program for both resident and Outreach children. Over the course of this last year, we have employed 2-3 student interns to assist with our Children’s Program, and other areas or our organization. We also have a pool of trained volunteers who help with the Children’s program and with organizing the donations we receive.
More recently we have employed a Marketing, Fundraising and Donations Coordinator, and in partnership with the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, an Intercultural Community Coordinator, which has taken our Liberty Lane team to 10 employees.
What is the structure of the organization?
The Board of Directors is the governing body of Liberty Lane Inc. The Board determines and defines the organization’s mission, identifying its purpose, goals, and target audiences.
The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Our Resident Support Worker works with our resident women, whilst our Child Guidance Coordinator, our students and many of our volunteers, work with our resident and outreach children.
Our Outreach Team has an Outreach Coordinator and 2 Outreach Workers who assist any gender identifying individuals in the community who find themselves experiencing domestic violence.
Our newest team members are our Marketing, Fundraising and Donations Coordinator whose role is to increase our profile within the community, and in partnership with NBMC our new Intercultural Community Coordinator, to help us provide accessible resources to our growing immigrant population.
What types of services does your organization offer and who are the people who use or take advantage of your services?
The Outreach Program provides services to all gender identifying individuals in the community. They provide emotional support, crisis interventions, accompaniment, advocacy, complete Danger Assessments and help individuals increase their safety in or out of a relationship through safety planning. They also assist with personal self-development, helping individuals make positive changes in their lives, provide information and referrals to community services, such as legal aid and counselling, and provide education and awareness sessions in schools, to government departments, workplace, and community organizations. In 2019 their mandate increased to include roles within the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCR) for clients who score highly on Danger Assessments and became designated assistors for Emergency Intervention Orders.
Our Second Stage Program provides safe, affordable (subsidized) housing, programing, and on-site support to self-identified women (and their children), who have fled their homes due to any type of domestic violence.
Our new Children’s Program is designed to provide a safe, positive, and healthy environment for children to socialize, have fun, experiment with new things, learn, practice their skills, and explore their potential, in addition to helping parents and providing guidance according to their needs. Although originally for Resident children only, our Children’s Program has expanded to include children from families accessing our Outreach Program.
- As a not-for-profit, what are your major fundraisers?
Our fundraising activities have been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, however, our biggest Fundraiser, our Big Band Bonanza has now been rescheduled for April 2023.
We currently have partnerships with Tru Earth, an eco-friendly laundry detergent company, who donate 20% of the proceeds of their sales through our fundraising link back to Liberty Lane https://fundraising.tru.earth/Liberty-Lane
and Fredericton company Loop Lifestyle, who is donating 15% from the sale of every Kathy claw clip in Lilac to Liberty Lane. https://looplifestyle.ca/collections/loop-claw-clips/products/the-kathy-claw-clip
What are the best ways to help your organization?
Financial Donations to Liberty Lane are always incredibly important as they allow us to continue operating our Outreach and Children’s Program. Donations of gift cards for groceries, gas and NB Power are also gratefully received as these can be given directly to our clients who have fled violent relationships and need immediate assistance in moving forward.
Can you tell me about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had while working for this organization?
Our Christmas Sponsorship Program has been incredibly successful and continues to grow year on year. We have been fortunate to have some incredible sponsors support our Resident and Outreach families with gifts for Christmas. We also have sponsors who donate gift cards for gas, groceries, and utilities, which we can give to clients for many months after Christmas has come and gone. Witnessing the kindness and generosity of sponsors, and the joy & disbelief of families as they collect the sponsor’s gifts is beyond rewarding. It is incredibly humbling and restores faith in humanity 😊
What kind of challenges has your organization encountered and how did you adapt to overcome them?
We are very dependent on yearly grants, donations and fundraisers which do not provide a reliable revenue stream. This means many employee positions, the programs they run and the work they do, cannot be guaranteed from one year to the next. As a result, it is difficult to recruit and retain employees and grow programs.
Covid-19 also took its toll on our organization as it did for many, and its impacts are not over yet. Trying to work virtually was very challenging when we did not have the technology in place to do so. This is work in progress. Also, it was not possible to provide all services virtually, so some staff have a blend of office and office working whilst others have had to continue working on site to continue resident services and ensure operational integrity.
- If I were thinking about volunteering for a not-for-profit organization, what would you say to sway my decision to join your organization? What kind of impact can volunteers have within your organization?
Our children’s program is very dependent on volunteers to ensure an appropriate adult/child ratio. Many of our children have additional needs and require one to one support. Essentially our children’s program could not run without them.
We also have volunteers that assist with processing physical donations. We receive a lot of physical donations throughout the year, and we do not have the staff resources to do this. Without volunteers, we would not be able to accept donations.
What is something that you wish more people knew about your organization?
Domestic Violence refers to the act of someone using coercive and violent tactics to gain power and control over a family member or someone with whom they have an intimate relationship. Domestic Violence is not just physical. It comes in many forms. It can be emotional, verbal, economic and spiritual. It can include isolating, stalking and harassing victims and it includes cyberviolence where abusers use computers, cell phones, social media, etc., to control, threaten and intimate victims.
Has your organization won any awards?
We won the Jim Gilbert’s Wheels & Deals Not-For-Profit Organization Award at the 2021 Fredericton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
What are you most proud of about your organization?
Our Staff. We have an incredible team of strong and empowering women that are dedicated to their work, and their clients. They are non-judgemental and empathetic and provide tremendous support to the clients we serve.