‘WHY THE HELL CAN’T THESE WOMEN HAVE JUST ONE NIGHT?’
KAMLOOPS - One of the experiences for many distressed women and children in Kamloops is sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas meals at the food bank in a room full of strangers, many of which are drunken men, according to a former social worker. These women will now get to be part of a special Christmas gala being organized for the marginalized women of Kamloops by a woman who been where they are.
Gillian Faith has worked with youth at risk, frontline street addictions and even transitional housing. She has also had to rely on child care subsidies and food banks to help her family get through tough times.
“I would take my clients to the food bank and then I would rush home, grab the kids and return to the food bank with my kids,” she says. “It was an incredibly humbling experience. It was bad.”
Last month she volunteered at New Life Mission during the Thanksgiving dinner and she met several young moms who have fallen on hard times and have been unable to work because of medical issues. As she watched their young kids playing around the many men in attendance an idea began to form.
“Something’s not right that she has to crowd in here with a bunch of drunk men so the kids can enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner,” she says. “It got me thinking…. Why the hell can’t these women have just one night?”
A couple of weeks later, after speaking to several women in the community who could benefit from this type of event, it was decided, she would coordinate Street LIGHT Christmas gala, an event just for these women. They will get their hair and nails done, get dressed up and listen to live entertainment while sipping drinks and enjoying appetizers in a room done up in serene winter wonderland decor.
There will be no outreach focus, unlike many events aimed at these women—it will be an event ‘just because.’
“We will completely transform it into a winter wonderland,” she says of the New Life Mission space. “There won’t be any typical Christmas decor - no ho-hos or Santas.”
The only males at the gala, which will be geared towards girls 16-years-old and up, will be young male servers from local youth church groups. Even the live entertainment will be all female with Sabrina Weeks recently agreeing to perform.
“I feel this is what I’m supposed to do, my heart is for these women I’ve worked with,” she says, adding she hopes to have other similar events in the future. “They need to know they’re deserving of that. If you treat someone like they’re worth more, they become more.”
She says her vision would see this type of programming become Street LIGHT In-reach Ministry. It would provide services to fill the gaps and provide things like birthday parties, movie and popcorn nights, graduations and Mother’s Day for people who do not usually get to celebrate those things.
“It’s esteeming people,” she says. “It’s about worth, showing they have worth and value and they are worth the time and energy put into planning an event.”
She expects about 200 invitations to be handed out for the Dec. 18 event in the near future. In the meantime she is looking for donations of dressy clothing, decor, gifts and crafts for the kids (childcare will be provided on site during the gala), dishes, table coverings and transportation the night of. She says the intention is to simply borrow the items and have them returned after the event.
She expects to have donation locations set up around the city in the coming weeks. There are already more than 75 volunteers in place and people interested in volunteering can sign up through Eventbrite. A list of needed items can also be found on Eventbrite or the Facebook page for the event.
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