Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 29, 2004
CAIC funds hope for prostitutes
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE) has just received a big boost in its battle against street prostitution. In late August the group got a $177,000 loan to purchase and repair the building in which they had been leasing space.
The Canadian Alternative Investment Cooperative (CAIC), a Toronto-based investment firm set up by Canadian religious congregations, provided the mortgage at five per cent over 20 years.
"If it wasn't for CAIC we would not have the building and we would be looking for space," said PAAFE executive director Kathleen Quinn.
PAAFE, a collaboration of individuals and groups working toward long-term solutions to the issues central to prostitution, had been renting space at the two-storey building at 118 Avenue and 92 Street since 1999. When the non-profit women's organization that owned the building decided to sell, the PAFFE board of directors decided to buy.
They approached a credit union and the Alberta Treasury Branches for a mortgage but both turned down their request. When Quinn spoke to her friend Bob McKeon about the situation, McKeon recommended she approach CAIC. It worked. PAAFE paid $137,000 for the building and is using the remainder of the loan to make necessary repairs.
Quinn, one of six PAAFE staff, is happy with the acquisition for it has provided PAAFE a stable base of operations and a new source of income by renting out the surplus space. PAAFE has confined its offices to the second floor and is currently renting the front space to the New Democratic Party and the back to a program for people with mental disabilities.
Quinn, former animator for the Alberta branch of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, has been involved with issues of prostitution since the early 1990s. One of her goals is to help eradicate the exploitation of people in prostitution. While volunteering with Communities for Changing Prostitution she helped establish the Prostitution Offender Program, a one-day program that educates johns about the consequences of their actions.
When PAAFE was established in 1997 Quinn became its executive director and the offender program became one of the organization's key programs. Money to run the program comes from the johns themselves. If police catch them, they are given two choices: defend themselves through the courts or pay $500 to attend the offender program or john school. This program is offered only to first-time offenders charged with communicating for the purposes of prostitution.
More than 1,700 johns ranging in age from 17 to 79 have attended the school since 1996. PAAFE, the Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Justice and STD Education Services offer the school in a downtown office seven times a year.
The organization uses much of the fees from the john school to provide healing to victims of prostitution and to address poverty, a main cause of prostitution.
"We are using the money to address the needs of the women so they don't have to sell their body for food," Quinn said.
Through its support fund, PAAFE provides money for bus tickets, baby needs, health needs, used furniture, house cleaning supplies, laundry soap and other basic needs.
The organization also established a grants program to support individuals with past or present involvement in street prostitution. The program helps them in their recovery and healing from the exploitation, violence, degradation, abuse and addictions associated with prostitution. It helps them deal with poverty issues that keep them entrapped or put up obstacles to their recovery.
PAAFE also offers counselling services through its partners and has funds available for addictions recovery programs when no other sponsor can be found.
And those with past and present involvement in prostitution can apply for a PAAFE bursary established at Grant MacEwan College. Quinn said the bursary is a good example of hope in action because it helps survivors of prostitution achieve their personal and educational goals.
PAAFE's resource speakers make presentations at colleges, universities and workshops. To request a speaker or to make a donation, call 471-6137.
"We are using the money to address the needs of the women so they don't have to sell their body for food."
- Kathleen Quinn
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