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Empathy • Humour • Hope

Her Story

Lynn Zimmer

Retired Executive Director of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton

Lynn's Story :

Recently I retired as Executive Director of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton. The YWCA was my feminist home, my work, and a big part of my identity for 35 years.

Before that, in 1973, I was one of the 10 founders of Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for women with children leaving abusive partners. I spent 12 years in a dynamic and creative
feminist collective. We were pioneers and we started something BIG. We found a practical outlet for our feminist rage. Then I spent the rest of my career working within a sector that I helped to create. It hadn’t existed when I was a girl trying to make choices about my future. No wonder I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I was the eldest of 8 children in the days before parents spent much time talking with their children – they had no time! They taught us to be responsible, eat everything on our plates, stop fighting with each other, and pay attention in school. My Mom taught me to always save time for my women friends and not to mend my clothes with safety pins, and my Dad taught me that even though I had to do what he said, sometimes questioning authority was required and very satisfying.

Now I am enjoying my retirement, still not sure what I want to do when I grow up. There is more time to enjoy the company of my husband, Richard Sturm, for bread-making, gardening, crossword puzzles, Zoom calls, and sleeping in as long as I like. For now, living a quiet life is one of my jobs as a senior during a pandemic.

I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to work with so many amazing feminist women throughout my career, all trying to change the world one day at a time. I often feel bleak about the violence and oppression and misogyny that is still so apparent, and yet I am encouraged and inspired by the words and actions of those who bring passion and commitment to their yearning for kindness, equity, justice, peace, and our environment.