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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Reif donation will combat violence against women and children
Klaus Reif, owner of Reif Estate Winery, presents Amanda Braet of Birchway Niagara with a cheque for $2,000. RICHARD WRIGHT

A $2,000 donation from Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Reif Estate Winery will be a lifeline for women and children affected by domestic abuse, says a representative of Birchway Niagara, an organization on the front lines against abuse.

“Birchway Niagara only exists, and the services that are life-saving are only possible, thanks to generous community members such as Reif Estate Winery,” said director of development Amanda Braet, who accepted the gift on Wednesday, May 22 at the winery’s Niagara Parkway location. 

Known as Women’s Place until the spring of 2023, Birchway Niagara serves as a shelter, an advocate and public educator in the struggle against intimate partner abuse.

Its physical locations are not publicized in order to protect those who seek out their services.

The money was raised during the winery’s Mother’s Day market, May 11 and 12, where a portion of the sales from the event’s wine bar and certain bottles were donated.

Violence on the rise

Braet said that while the donations of this kind are always important, a rise in violence against women in Niagara over the past two years is creating an even greater need for support.

“We have already lost four women this year in Niagara alone,” she says, referring to people who were killed by their partners. 

This is compared to last year, when three women in total died by such violence.

“For us to have already lost four in this short span (of the calendar year), it is very worrisome. It is a trend that we are looking at,” she said.

“It is important that there is a place for safety and resources to help women and children build a life free from abuse.”

Birchway receives 65 per cent of its operating budget from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

“Which leaves a gap of about $800,000 just to maintain services to make sure they are free and available to anyone,” said Braet, repeating that the winery’s $2,000 will make a difference.

“It all adds up and donations like these are really critical. It all makes a difference for sure.”

Visibly moved by the upsetting statistics and the fact that abuse like this still occurs in a modern and much more aware society, Klaus Reif, the winery estate’s owner, provided more than money to the cause — he provided his voice.

“There is no excuse for any domestic violence,” he said. “We have to help everyone who is in such a bad situation. It is just not right.”

“It is just unacceptable”

“We don’t do this because we want to receive any publicity,” he added. “We do it because it is the right thing to do.” 

“It blows my mind,” he continued. “We are a civilized country in Canada. We are not a Third World country. It is just unacceptable and we have to do anything to help.”

His voice, and the voices of men everywhere are important ones, said Braet.

“There are a lot of incredible male allies and it is so nice for Klaus to step up and be one of those people because we don’t want the idea that all men are bad,” she said.

“There are a lot of incredible men doing really important work to support women and children in our community and we certainly celebrate that.”

wright@niagaranow.com

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