Chicks for Charity’s ninth annual fundraising event on June 22, “Champagne High Tea” was an elegant success enjoyed by guests in support of women and children that also touched on the serious topic of domestic violence and homicide.
Guests enjoyed flutes of champagne, a live and electronic auction, high tea and raffles. Tea hats and fascinators (a formal headpiece alternative to a hat) were encouraged.
Since its beginning Chicks for Charity has had the mandate of helping women and children and the charity is a way to hold a classy event to support that cause within the community, says Jane Wierzba, president.
The charity has raised over $200,000 for women and children since it began. Every year, a portion of the proceeds goes to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) and the remainder goes to a different organization.
CAWES offers a safe refuge, counselling and other supports for families experiencing domestic violence, serving central Alberta, including Ponoka.
This year the remaining proceeds will be donated to the Stepping Stones program here in Ponoka.
Stepping Stones is a non-profit program of Central Alberta Youth Unlimited that supports pregnant and parenting youth through a community of peer support, helping to develop essential life and parenting skills and offering one-on-one support to young parents.
In the past, the Chicks have also made donations to the Go Girl program through Big Brothers Big Sisters, KidSport, and made a sizeable donation to the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre for the purchase of a fetal monitor and has purchased automated external defibrillator’s (AED’s) for local schools and the youth centre and donated to the development of a community playground.
The amount raised this year was not available at press time.
The auctioneer for the event was Jon Radcliffe, an award-winning auctioneer from Torrington, Alberta, and the younger brother of Wierzba.
Chicks for Charity is supported by the Ponoka Stampede Association, which provides the location of the Stagecoach Saloon every year and volunteers.
Guest speaker Racha El-Dib of Calgary shared the harrowing story of how her sister Nadia was brutally murdered on March 25, 2018 in a case of domestic violence.
El-Dib spoke of how it felt to realize her sister was missing, and then to identify her at the crime scene.
“That day changed our lives forever,” she said.
After the suspect, Nadia’s ex-boyfriend, was killed in a police shootout as he attempted to flee and led the police on a chase, it left Nadia’s family without answers.
“We realized that was only the beginning of the horror movie we were living.”
El-Dib spoke of the bystander effect, and how everyone can be a part of preventing domestic violence and how it’s important to recognize the signs before it’s too late. In Nadia’s case, her friends supported the abusive ex, misconstruing the controlling and abusive behaviour as being loving and devoted.
Women are six times more likely to be the victim of a domestic homicide when they decide to leave, says El-Dib, which is why she works now to spread awareness of domestic violence, the red flags and how to support them, and of the resources available to victims of domestic abuse in the hopes that we will become more engaged as a society in preventing domestic violence.
In one out of every five days, a woman is killed by a domestic partner, says El-Dib.
Statistics may point to these cases being women living high risk lifestyles or otherwise being in a vulnerable group, but El-Dib says many times in reality, it’s just young girls who go out for a night with friends and never make it home.