The 2015 results are in and WINS, like many businesses in Calgary felt the winds of change – some pretty strong chinook winds at that! Customers told us stories of how important it was to watch their spending, purchasing necessities for themselves and their families and taking a pass on items of lesser priority. All told, while we experienced a modest increase in annual sales, overall a lower number of customers purchased items in our stores than in 2014. This past February, for the second month in a row we had to turn away clients seeking assistance through WINS Free Goods Referral Program – a program that helps women access basic household items, furniture and clothing through our four thrift store locations – as a result of declining levels of furniture donations. Then, in March stepping up our appeal to donors for their working but no longer used small appliances, furniture and clothing – particularly for school-aged youth – we saw a tremendous outpouring of support for society’s vulnerable helping us to meet our first quarter target for goods provided free of charge. Meanwhile, as we look to ensure sustainability of our operations in light of the challenges faced by many of Calgary’s corporations so generous with the financial support of our mission in the past, we find encouragement in the 600 hours volunteered by over 30 regular volunteers each month in our four stores and warehouse facility. WINS volunteers, some of whom have experienced first-hand the ‘winds of change’ mentioned earlier, are generous with their time in service of others. I feel both humbled and encouraged by the support of WINS donors and its volunteers proving that challenges faced by a community like our own really do have the potential to bring forth the best is each of us. There is a reward for us in a renewed understanding of the ways in which we are more alike than those in which we are different, and by allowing ourselves the opportunity to feel compassion for others, and to take pride in our efforts.