Brazil & Portugal  


Embracing our Community through Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Changing the Landscape so that Every Client Feels Welcome and Safe

 by  Gerry Luciano, Manager, Fundraising and Communications | August 10, 2023

The Abrigo Centre is committed to supporting the unique experiences, talents and perspectives of our volunteers, students, staff and most importantly our clients. Our agency embraces all things that make us unique individuals.

One year ago, Abrigo started an internal staff Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The group’s working mandate is promoting the rights of all the groups mentioned above, our many community stakeholders, and providing everyone with the ongoing respect each of us deserves.

With that vision in mind, ensuring inclusivity means building a clean, safe, warm environment where clients, volunteers and staff feel welcomed, valued and empowered.

‘ Empowered Women’  


Last September, the reopening of Abrigo’s office to walk-in clients four days a week and the in-person reappearance of some groups was a welcome return to modern day normalcy. Today, with the depths of the pandemic apparently over after three long years, it became quite evident that the physical interior of our office needed modernization. A sprucing up if you will.

The building that currently houses Abrigo is close to a century old and the general malaise of the interior was not a positive first impression for clients, most importantly those experiencing gender-based violence.

Operating through an intersectional lens, one element of the EDI team’s work is to make everyone entering Abrigo, no matter who you are, feel welcome and safe. As a result, the EDI committee is currently in the process of creating a physical environment that warmly embraces anyone who walks through our doors.

Safety, Security, and Comfort

“Creating an environment that gives everyone the impression of safety, security, and comfort is an important element of our committee’s work,” say EDI committee member Paula De Jesus, who also serves as Abrigo’s Programs Manager. “Right now, we are half-way through the process. Walls have been painted and artwork installed. New signage and furniture are on their way in the coming months. I’m excited for the future and our final destination. We just want to make our clients feel at home.”

Unique Experiences

“As an agency, Abrigo celebrates the unique experiences, talents and perspectives of our employees, volunteers, and clients,” says Ed Graça, Abrigo’s Executive Director. “For more than 30 years this organization has embraced all things that make us unique. That includes ethnicity, race, religion, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and ability. Our Board of Directors and senior management team believes that this diversity brings us organizational strength.”



Inspiring artwork

ABRIGO CENTRE: Inspiring artwork all around and lovely new cabinetry in the meeting space.

Creating a work environment that fosters inclusivity, trust and personal growth is not as easy as it may sound. Even with the various lived life experiences of the EDI committee members, the group has tapped into the talents and expertise of others within our community and from individuals as far away as Brazil.

“This is currently a work in progress. On a visit to Abrigo’s you’ll immediately see some freshly painted walls. New, inspiring artwork all around and lovely new cabinetry in the meeting space used buy our Women’s Group,” says Ms. De Jesus. “Stay tuned for more changes coming this fall. They are going to revolutionize our space and hopefully make everyone who walks through our doors feel like they are part of our Abrigo family.”


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Gerry Luciano

Luciano has been the Abrigo Centre’s Manager of Fundraising and Communications for eight years. He has an extensive background in both specialties in the healthcare and social service sectors.

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