Sylvia Hitchcock and Rita Petersen raise their hands

Sylvia Hitchcock and Rita Petersen raise their hands

Chicks for Charity exceeds previous dollars raised

Fundraising event during Stampede Week takes in more than $40,000

Women dressed in their best for a fundraising breakfast intended to shine some light on women in need in central Alberta.

This year’s Chicks for Charity event was held Saturday, July 2 and brought in more than $40,000, which exceeded last year’s numbers, explained vice-president Lisa Barrett. “About halfway through the morning, we were over $30,000.”

Since just about every component of the morning was donated, the food was paid for in the 300 sold out tickets, the Chicks for Charity group was able to ensure it supported both the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter and the Ponoka Stepping Stones Project.

President Jane Wierzba was also pleased with the strong support and seeing women come together for an important cause, in this case women’s issues involving abuse and neglect. Attendees see a need in supporting these programs, she added.

For the Stepping Stones group, Ponoka director Katie Peters says the non profit association has been in operation in Ponoka for five years and six in Lacombe and a fundraiser like this goes a long way to continuing the life-skills and mentoring program at Stepping Stones. “It sustains our program. We are 100 per cent privately funded.”

The group provides assistance to young women and mothers in their teens and into their 20s who are having struggles with abuse in their lives. To do that, Stepping Stones brings assistance, training and long-term mentorship to break the cycles of abuse, explained Peters.

The woman can come to Stepping Stones and be trained while also receiving professional counselling and guidance needed to move forward in their lives. “We’re seeing alot of cycles being repeated and we need a little more intense attack at this,” explained Peters of a new initiative programmers are looking at.

This new initiative brings long-term mentorship to clients once they step through the doors, explained Donna Abma, director for Lacombe.

“The first step is the drop-in where they can come, feel safe, not be judged but start to learn what community is and what support looks like,” explained Abma.

“For some of these girls that’s something they’ve never experienced,” she added.

Once counsellors can begin to bring self-worth into these women, she suggests that is when they can break cycles of violence and abuse and creating better choices.

Generated income increases every year for the charity and for this sixth year organizers brought in Givergy technology, which enabled attendees to bid on silent auction items through a device on each table making it easier to bid. Ponoka Family and Community Support Services donated the cost to use the technology, which helped ensure more dollars were raised. “When there was five minutes left, we had over 100 bids, which we would never have had if you had to go write your name,” said Barrett.

Barrett and Wierzba praised the many corporate donations and the strong support from all the attendees.