City of Leduc, AB – Its executive director might have told Santa that one of her wishes might be to see a substantial donation look after the Riseup House’s annual budget, but her Elves might have objected, since they had so much fun planning this fundraising event…
On the evening of Friday December the 14th, 150 guests gathered in the City of Leduc’s Civic Centre, in its Atrium, Lede Room and reception area, to support the fundraising efforts of Riseup House, a non-profit organization created five years ago to educate and empower women impacted by intimate partner abuse, which includes physical, emotional, financial, sexual and spiritual abuse. Joanne Van Beek, at the helm of this dynamic small group of counsellors and support staff, was introduced to the large gathering, and shared an uplifting message of what the Riseup House is all about, being a center of support and counselling, rather than a crisis centre or a shelter, and how it relies heavily on individual and corporate donations to “keep the lights on” and to pay its staff.
A new corporate sponsor has come on board, and being on the Pipestone flyer’s radar, we made sure to get a quote from its representative. The VP of the Edmonton International Airport’s (EIA) Business Development, Myron Keehn, happens to be a City of Leduc resident, and until recently had not heard of Riseup House. Two individuals happened to contact him at the same time and he immediately went into active mode: he arranged for a large contribution to the Riseup House operating budget, and bought tickets to attend the fundraiser. He was “impressed with the function, the quality and number of Silent Auction items, and the attendance and shares that he thinks this organisation is a valuable service in a city such as ours. Lorraine Weir, Brambles Boutique owner, and her Event Planning team members used their extensive contacts to create a dynamic list of caring and generous guests.
Mr. Keehn also shared that “being a large employer in this region, the Airport is committed to local charities, and especially during the Christmas Season, it (EIA management) wants to improve the quality of life of its neighbors, in Leduc and the municipalities within the County.” As old as the institution of marriage, rarely mentioned in ‘polite society’ fifty years ago and even nowadays, domestic violence is a growing concern in the modern world, and it is often addressed by law enforcement agencies.
Dave Mackenzie, City of Leduc alderman, was the master of ceremonies: he is a long-time, fierce supporter of Riseup House, and that night was also one of the hosts of the event. He introduced Joanne Van Beek, who in turn introduced a lady who was a ‘client’ of Riseup House, a victim of lifelong domestic control and of one-time violence in the hands of her ex-husband. This lady bravely stood before a captive audience, and described the strict limitations of her married life, and her improved health and well-being once she made the difficult decision of leaving the marriage. She talked of the support and kindness of the Riseup House staff, and how it helped her deal with serious issues in her past. A video had preceded her testimony, and that video caused many tears in the audience…
Local businessman Patrick Matthews had been asked to be the auctioneer, as the ‘hired’ auctioneer got lost getting to the Civic Centre, but had to relinquish the job, that he no doubt would have completed with skill and gusto, when the man arrived. This Mitchener-Allen auctioneer was fun and entertaining, an excellent choice! He started the Live Auction of nearly ten pieces of art with a pencil and charcoal sketch “The Bird” drawn by a local girl, Lauren Mercer, a Junior High student at Christ the King. This lovely piece of art was meant to “warm up” the bidders, and that it did! The piece, framed beautifully, sold for… $500! The bidding was fast and furious, fueled by a common desire to see some great funds support the positive and impressive works accomplished by Riseup House.
One piece of art that caused some lively bidding was “Ripe Tomatoes”, an oil painting by Susan Abma, the renowned artist based in the County of Leduc… Interestingly, the successful bidder was Peter Abma, her own brother-in-law! He seemed quite pleased with his acquisition, and took some teasing about the ‘friendly price’ of this warm and color-rich artwork, considering its true value among art collectors. Many other pieces of art were donated by local and regional artists, and this collection alone successfully met the fundraising expectations of the Riseup management, as they expressed their gratitude afterwards.
Great food, light spirits, lovely art and a variety of Silent Auction items, fun and caring guests and a precious cause added to a successful fundraising event for Riseup House. Its management is quick to remind us that if we know of someone who needs support and guidance in the midst of a marriage clouded by abuse and violence, we shouldn’t hesitate to refer this person to Riseup House, where she will find options through loving support. Caring donors are still welcome to contact Ms. Van Beek at 780-739-7473 to discuss their contribution, and where to send it to. In the spirit of Christmas, where many domestic situations can emerge or explode, financial support to this precious endeavor is critical, and much appreciated.