Delegate Spotlight - Andrea Strathdee and "Rock for Optimism"

Andrea Strathdee is one of many Daughters of the Vote delegates making change in their communities through the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant. In January, Andrea organized an event in called “Rock for Optimism” to raise awareness about violence against women, and raised over $3,000 for Optimism Place Women’s Shelter and Support service.

Read more about what she had to say about her project:


What encouraged you to apply for the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant?

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a caring community. I saw the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant as an opportunity to give back to my community, which made me very excited to apply for the grant


Tell us about your project! Who was it aimed towards, what kind of project was it (i.e. event, training, etc), what were your goals, was it successful?

I used my grant to host a “Rock for Optimism” concert to raise money for the Optimism Place Women's Shelter and Support service in Stratford, Ontario. This organization supports women and their children who are facing abuse. The shelter faces unique challenges in that it is the main service provider for women facing abuse in a large geographic region, the county of Perth. At the event, we successfully raised awareness about violence against women, the Optimism Place and the services they provide and raised over $3000.


How has Daughters of the Vote and the Leadership Grant influenced your leadership skills?

Leadership isn’t about what one person can do, it’s about harnessing other people’s strengths and joining forces to make a difference. I’m fortunate to have many friends and family and an extremely supportive community who helped make this event a success. Daughters of the Vote and the Leadership Grant have inspired me to use my connections to help lead my community to advocate for important issues such as ending violence against women.


What impact did the grant have on your community?

I think the grant helped me raise awareness about violence against women and the services that are available to women facing abuse. We also raised over $3000 from many community members coming out to my event and received various generous donations. These funds will go a long way in helping women facing abuse in our community and in advocating against violence against women.


What is the biggest lesson you have learned from this project?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this project is that a small act can make a significant impact. I know that’s a cliché, but in one afternoon we raised awareness about an extremely important issue and raised enough money to have a significant impact in bettering the lives of women facing abuse.


Anything else you would like to add?

I'm very grateful to Equal Voice for the opportunities I've had to advocate for women and issues that are important to the riding of Perth-Wellington. Often, both federal and provincial politics are focused on issues pertaining to urban centres. The issues and realities in rural ridings are often very different, which makes providing services more challenging such as those offered by the Optimism Place to women facing abuse. The Daughters of the Vote forum in 2017 gave me a similar opportunity to make an address in the House of Commons about the difficulty that small and rural municipalities face in maintaining vital infrastructure without adequate federal and provincial funding. Thank you to Equal Voice for giving me these opportunities.

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