UPDATED ‘Dancing with the Star’ offers Hollywood glitz, aims to address family violence

A charity event that will have benefits for local rural residents is shaping up to be a fun and unique evening.

The coveted Riseup Society Dancing with the Stars trophy.

A charity event that will have benefits for local rural residents is shaping up to be a fun and unique evening.


Riseup Society’s Dancing with the Stars celebrity guestlist: MC Jack Almond, Auctioneer His Worship, Nolan Crouse, Mayor of St. Albert, Judges Dana Smith, Councillor, City of Leduc, Glen Finstad, Councillor, City of Leduc, *Guest Judge (TBA), Dancers Dave MacKenzie, Councillor, City of Leduc, Hilda Holloway, Owner & Operator, Playgirl Salon, Tammy Haayema, Owner & Operator, Kennelli Springs, Lynette Hayden, Branch Manager, ATB, Wayne Strach, Fitness Enthusiast, Insp. Kevin Kunetzki, RCMP, Jennifer Garries, Leduc Chamber, *Guest dancers (TBA) and Keynote Speaker Elena Esina, Manager, SHIFT: The Project to End Domestic Violence.

Dancing with the Stars is the annual fundraiser for Riseup Society, which offers domestic violence referrals to Leduc County, County of Wetaskiwin, Millet and victims in other areas. Executive director Jacqueline Biollo said preparations for the TV-like event are shaping up well.

She said the evening will be emceed by Jack Almonds, a well-known community leader. “Jack has personality,” said Biollo by phone Nov. 3.

Biollo said, though the evening is scheduled to coincide with Violence Prevention Month, it doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy-hearted, and instead be an event where people can be positive and enjoy themselves. “It’s all in fun and jest,” said Biollo, describing the Dancing with the Stars format.

Similar to the show that’s one of the highest rated on the tube, local celebrities will cut the rug with different styles and music, while a panel of celebrity judges will decide who’s hot and who’s not.

Biollo said recruiting local celebrities to dance was fun. “We are kind of excited,” she said. “A lot of it is about the locals.” Among the dancers recruited include Leduc RCMP Insp. Kevin Kunetzki and many others.

Also on tap are both silent and live auctions, featuring celebrity auctioneer Nolan Crouse, mayor of St. Albert and Chair of the Capital Region Board. Keynote speaker will be Elena Esena of Shift: A Project to End Domestic Violence who will speak on options for those who suspect family abuse.

She noted Riseup Society wants to diversify its fundraising efforts. The funds raised through Dancing with the Stars will go to the programs and services Riseup Society offers, including a program for men currently being considered. Biollo said a lower percentage of victims of domestic violence are male, but it is still a reality, especially for children.

Riseup Society may be located in Leduc, but Biollo said the group helps clients from around the region and sees itself as a regional agency. “We are finding there is a great need in the rural area,” said Biollo. She said Riseup Society helps victims of violence from the County of Wetaskiwin, Thorsby, Calmar, Millet and would like to expand to help victims in Wetaskiwin too. She said the society wants victims to know there is help and they’re not alone.

Riseup Society’s programs and services to help victims of family violence include presentations and seminars, women’s support and recovery groups, specialty support groups, healing retreats and individual counseling.

Dancing with the Stars will be held Sat., Nov.19 at the Wingate Hotel on Sparrow Drive from 6:30 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m. DJ services provided by Hippy Dog Music. Tickets are $40 per person, which includes one drink, appies, entertainment and auctions. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering, or for tickets, call 780-739-7473.


Up close with Riseup Society

Riseup staff, clinical counsellors and group facilitators have worked with over 750 individuals a number, regrettably, that especially with the realities of the economic downturn is increasing as individuals struggle to communicate effectively within their relationships and are sometimes unable to express their fears and anxieties without the use of violence or abusive words and behaviours.

If you want to put a name to a face of some of the women who come to Riseup:

Like Shawna, who came to Riseup in 2014 after a referral from a social worker. She was in a common-law relationship but one of power and control. Her three children had been taken away due to the abusive nature in the household. Throughout her eight-year relationship she left often but also returned… for domestic violence and abuse was something she was familiar with, thought of as normal in a relationship having grown up with an abusive father and a mother who was killed on “the streets” where she worked as a prostitute. Shawna grew up in foster care from the time she was six-years-old. She is still very unhappy, suicidal and alone.

Or Chantelle, a 42-years-old, still in a physical, psychological, and verbally abusive relationship with her husband of 20 years who threatens to kill himself or both of them when things aren’t going well. She came to Riseup in the spring of 2015. Chantelle is the victim of some sexual abuse and inappropriate touching, when she was a child, from a school principal and suffers from severe depression, low self-esteem, feels disregarded and invisible and is very unhappy.

Funds donated to Riseup are also used for:

Ongoing programs and services that seek to bring hope and healing to those impacted by domestic violence and abuse through one-on-one counselling, group sessions, healing retreats, and education and awareness initiatives.

Increased access to resources for those impacted by domestic violence.

Our ability to focus on gender-based violence by addressing issues, increasing awareness, and strengthening community strategies for prevention and intervention.

Funds will help advance policies and strategies that promote safe, stable, and healthy relationships; (enhance our ability to) continue to work with policy makers and trained professionals to improve responses to domestic violence; and educate people about the importance of healthy relationships.

Raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence in rural and urban communities.

Empower those impacted by domestic violence and abuse through economic literacy, community engagement, and education and awareness about healthy relationships; and by recognizing and celebrating their resiliency.

Provide arms-length support to shelters for crisis intervention, safety planning, advocacy, resources, and a supportive ear.

Fact: The prevalence of domestic violence is alarming. Data collected since 2011 found that over 60 new clients access Riseup programs and services each year; the age of clients served ranges from 18 80 years old.

Although women are much more likely than men to be victimized, Riseup will be introducing a Pilot Project (2017) for men impacted by domestic violence and abuse.

Riseup Society Alberta believes that through collaboration and partnerships with community stakeholders, we can raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence and abuse while creating opportunities for education, awareness, and prevention within the community.

-Jacqueline Biollo, executive director


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