In a normal year, participants would have been gathering en masse today for the annual Jeanne Renault Golf Classic. This not being a normal year, the golfing has been spread out over the month with the same goal of raising money for Woolwich Community Services’ family violence prevention program.
In the past, the event has featured a large group competing in a best-ball format, with the day offering up contests and prizes. That all changed this year due to the COVID-19 situation.
Instead, throughout the month of August, WCS has been offering participants the chance to golf at Ariss Valley Golf Club at a time and day of their choosing, the competition still there, though not head-to-head.
“We decided that… during the month of August, we would invite our golfers to come with a foursome or with another person on almost any day of their choice,” said Leigh-Anne Quinn, community engagement coordinator at WCS.
With the extended version of the golf classic, participation has been down compared to years in the past. “We’re still accepting registrations so obviously; it isn’t as busy as a golf tournament would have been last year,” said Quinn.
The event is the largest fundraiser for the family violence prevention program, which has been running since 1991. For the past 26 years, WCS has partnered with a local golf course to run the Jeanne Renault Golf Classic to benefit the program.
Virginia Logan, the program’s director, says fundraising is an important part of the equation.
“We are funded through the Ministry of Community and Social Services. However, that’s only about 60 per cent of our budget, and we have to fundraise or get donations for at least 40 per cent of our budget – it is probably a bit higher this year. Without things like a golf tournament and the bowl-a-thon and people just donating, we would not be able to provide the services we provide.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown has officials concerned about an increase in domestic violence, though Logan notes WCS went through a period of several months without receiving any new calls. Now that aspects of the economy are reopening, WCS and others are seeing a rise in cases. On Monday alone, Logan was contacted by three new people seeking assistance.
“I’ve been here in this position for almost 20 years, and I don’t know that I’ve ever had a day that I had three people calling in one day. What I’m hearing from police, I’m hearing from the shelter, family and children services, everybody’s numbers are going up. Because people didn’t reach out for two or three months at the beginning of all this; I think [it’s] because things are opening up,” said Logan.
The program supports anyone that has experienced family violence or is currently experiencing it. The majority of those that take part are women, but the program is open to helping men and connecting children with additional supports, including connecting people with affordable housing, Ontario Works and providing counselling and general support amongst the many other facets of the program. Each year, the family violence prevention program assists about 120 people.
Click here to register for this year’s golf fundraiser.