This International Women’s Day, our Women’s Shelter Counsellor, Victoria Roth was presented with the Dedication Award at the Woman ACT Soul of a Warrior Awards Dinner.
Victoria’s journey at Women’s Habitat began in 1991 when she was hired as a relief Child and Youth Worker. Almost 30 years later, Victoria continues to be a tireless advocate for women and children and a mentor to students, volunteers and employees beginning their social work careers.
Victoria has a deep connection to South Etobicoke, having moved to the neighbourhood 11 years ago to help raise her grandchildren. “When I first moved here I quickly became aware of the great division of wealth in the community; I have seen firsthand the impact (Women’s Habitat’s) Outreach Centre has on those struggling to make ends meet.”
When Victoria started at Women’s Habitat, resources were scarce. “We head leaky pipes and broken this and that constantly, but we maintained a sense of togetherness and that continues to be one of our greatest strengths; that and our diversity.” Victoria strongly believes it is the diversity of the organization that is both its greatest challenge and its greatest asset. “It is critical that we have a staff team that reflects the diversity of the women and children we serve. As staff we don’t all think alike and we challenge each other. It’s not always comfortable, but it is so important and it makes us stronger. It ensures we are providing the quality of service women and children deserve.”
It is Victoria’s ability to challenge herself and create connections that has made her such a skilled counsellor. She shares that it was her mother who instilled in her from a young age the concepts of social justice and equity. Her mother, a hero in her own right, fled war torn Germany with her children when Victoria was a child. “She believed in giving back to the community. She would share her last potato with you. That was the kind of woman she was”.
When ask how she continues to be successful in her work Victoria says there is no formula; “if you are using a formula you are not doing the work. You need to be completely in tune with what is happening around you. You have to actively listen and be trauma informed. Every woman and every experience is unique.”
After almost three decades counselling women and children who’ve experienced trauma, Victoria continues to receive immense joy from her work “I am able to get paid for doing what I love doing. How great is that? Not many people can say that. I feel so privileged when they trust me enough to share with me. It is awesome to watch women as they talk it out and solve their own problems. All you need to do is believe them, support them and encourage them.”
Congratulations Victoria on your well-deserved recognition. Your passion and dedication is inspiring and it is our privilege to have you on the Women’s Habitat team.