Vancouver, BC—June 3, 2009 – Prostitution, Alternatives, Counselling, and Education (PACE) Society in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is at risk of permanently closing its doors due to lack of funding, after fifteen years of service to the community. As a local not-for-profit agency, we rely on fundraising, government funding, and private donations to sustain our organization and the people it serves. Due to the current economic crisis, we are experiencing extreme funding shortfalls. Economic hard times affect everyone, but especially those most marginalized in our communities. Our members need our organization even more at this time, as other supports in their lives are diminishing. If we are forced to close and deny them the stability, safety, and advocacy they receive from PACE, it would truly be a tragedy.
In response to this uncertainty, we are holding a 15 year Anniversary Open House on Friday, June 26th, between 6:00-9:00pm, at our office at 49 West Cordova. We hope that this event will generate the support we need, both financial and social, to keep our doors open during this recession.
PACE is an integral and unique part of a service network that supports survival sex trade workers. We assist society’s most marginalized people to make profound changes in their lives. “PACE is a vital service for sex workers in the Downtown Eastside who face extreme violence and discrimination,” says Katrina Pacey, lawyer with Pivot Legal Society’s Sex Work and Human Rights Campaign. “The loss of this organization, which has a unique focus on sex workers’ safety, dignity, and empowerment, will be devastating to women who struggle to find effective supports.”
Leigh Hutchinson, a former PACE member, adds that “PACE was and still is a big part of my life and my self-esteem. The staff and members accepted me, as well as helped me find out who I really am. I am so very glad this organization exists for people such as myself and my fellow sisters.”
We employ a strengths-based approach to empower our members to help themselves make positive choices. We assist them with life skills, so that although most of them are coping with obstacles such as poverty and trauma, they have the opportunity to achieve the goals they set for themselves. PACE encourages its members not to see themselves as victims of circumstance but rather as autonomous individuals capable of choosing their own path. The survival sex trade is hazardous for the workers, but at PACE our members are offered a safe place for one-on-one support, violence prevention training, and community building. The violence facing workers has not ceased with the arrest of one serial killer, and the instability of the city with the upcoming Olympics compounds the challenges faced by survival sex trade workers. Through these challenges, PACE is literally a lifeline for our members.
In addition to attending our Open House, readers can support PACE in two ways:
1- By making a secure online donation by accessing our website, http://www.pace-society.ca and clicking on the “Donate Now” button. That will take you to the Canada Helps website, which will prompt you for your payment information.
2- By writing a cheque, and either dropping it off or mailing it to:
49 West Cordova Street
All donations are confidential and tax deductable.
By supporting PACE, you are supporting the human rights, dignity, and safety of all sex workers. We urge you to attend our Open House on June 26th to show your solidarity and commitment to social justice, human rights, and a thriving, resilient Downtown Eastside community.
For more information, call (604) 872-7651, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.