Seventeen years ago, Charlotte Semple, Carole Fast, and Michelle Young, all of whom had experienced abuse, decided to create an organization that could support other women who wanted to remake their lives. Since then, the Victoria Women in Need Society has built up three highly-regarded clothing resale stores in Victoria, while creating good jobs, programs, and support to women in the transition process. Three years ago, with grants from the Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program (CEDTAP), the three commenced a full operational review to prepare WIN for their retirement.
The review made it plain how many "good works" WIN had accomplished. It also showed how much more there was to be done. What was the difference between good works for women in crisis and good works that help to develop the capacities of women and the community for the long term? How could the WIN stores become more ecologically responsible and create still more jobs? Finally, who other than the three founders could pursue these tasks and opportunities?
After much deliberation, the answer dropped into their laps. The very women who had staffed WIN's stores over the years were among the most devoted to the organization, to its purpose, and to its future. In 2006, the Victoria Women In Need Community Cooperative assumed all of WIN's business responsibilities. It's a shining example of how the worker co-operative can resolve succession issues in social enterprise.