Lawyers work to protect women, kids

29 Mar 2021
Kara Moore and Mercedes Ayala

Bravestone Centre helps victims of domestic violence get support

Kara Moore and Mercedes Ayala are making a difference in their careers as lawyers and in their volunteer work with Bravestone Centre.

Moore and Ayala, who got to know each other while studying law at the University of Manitoba, serve on the non-profit’s board of directors. Bravestone Centre provides women and children affected by domestic violence with secure and safe on-site housing, counselling, support programs and connection with community resources.

The board provides oversight to the organization and assists executive director Lori Rudniski in areas like strategic planning, marketing and fundraising.

Moore, a civil litigation lawyer at Pitblado Law, joined the board three years ago.

“It’s a really positive atmosphere,” the 27-year-old says. “We all get along really well.”

Moore has volunteered for a variety of organizations ever since she was in Grade 8. She was inspired to get involved with Bravestone Centre because of her concern for women who have experienced domestic violence.

“I wanted to help out with that in any way I could and support those women and families,” Moore says.

Ayala joined Bravestone’s board last November.

The 28-year-old, who previously volunteered at the Legal Help Centre and North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, heard about the organization from Moore. She got to know more about it prior to the pandemic by attending a handful of Bravestone’s fundraising events.

Ayala’s work as a family lawyer at Mitousis Lemieux Howard has shown her how difficult it can be for women who are being abused by their partners to leave their situations.

“A lot of people want to leave domestic violence situations, but they can’t because they don’t have the support they need,” she says. “When I heard that they were looking for board members, I jumped at the chance to help out.”

For Ayala, hearing Rudniski talk at meetings about what’s happening at Bravestone on a day-to-day basis is a highlight of serving on the board.

“You get to hear everything that’s going on at the centre — how things are improving and how staff are adjusting in the COVID environment,” she says. “I enjoy being part of a board for an organization that I know is doing good work.”

For Moore, meeting with Bravestone staff each year at the centre’s annual general meeting is meaningful.

“It’s always a highlight when we get to connect with the staff, who do the hands-on work, and hear their perspectives,” she says. “It’s also meaningful any time we’re able to have a large-scale special event or fundraiser. That’s also a really positive experience, and it just reaffirms that our hard work as a 12-person board is reaching a broader audience and paying off.”

While in-person fundraising events are not possible at this time, board members are currently promoting a 50/50 raffle. Anyone who would like to support the centre’s work can purchase tickets online at bravestonecentre.ca/events.

The board is also looking to add new members in the areas of public relations, marketing, and corporate or business law.

Interested candidates can email info@bravestonecentre.ca.

“It’s a really respectful group where everyone is able to voice their opinions,” Moore says. “We all have a common goal, which is to do what we can to help the clients at Bravestone.”

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

Originally published by the Winnipeg Free Press: 03/29/2021
By: Aaron Epp

Phone 204-275-2600 Donate to Bravestone Centre now through CanadaHelps.org.