Ladies brunch cancellation a blow to Ponoka Stepping Stones and CAWES

CAWES has new fundraiser, Trash Your Dress for CAWES

The cancellation of a spring ladies fundraising brunch is a big loss to both Ponoka Stepping Stones and the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES).

The event dubbed “What a Girl Wants” that was supposed to be held on June 20 at the Stagecoach Saloon was cancelled due to COVID-19. It was being jointly coordinated by CAWES and Stepping Stones.

“Sadly, we made the decision to cancel the event for this year due to COVID, but have full intentions of trying again in 2021 — fingers crossed,” said Roxanne Kirton, CAWES marketing, events and volunteer coordinator.

Last year, the Ponoka ladies group Chicks for Charity hosted a champagne tea in benefit of the two organizations, which raised $17,630 for Stepping Stones, and the same amount for CAWES.

READ MORE: Chicks for Charity writes cheques

However, this year the Chicks are taking a hiatus and CAWES and Stepping Stones took over organizing a similar event themselves — the ladies brunch — that was to take the place of the former Chicks for Charity event, says Kirton.

Stepping Stones is a faith-based community program run under the banner of Central Alberta Youth Unlimited that works with pregnant and parenting young mothers and their children.

“We were incredibly blessed to be one of the non-profit organizations selected by last year’s Chicks for Charity committee for the 2019 fundraiser,” said Stepping Stones staff Nadine Davies, Brittany Koleba and Katie Peters in an email.

“Those funds not only carried us through this entire year but allowed Stepping Stones to have some resources that will help us get started in the fall as well.”

Stepping Stones is 100 per cent privately funded and relies completely on donations.

The group says they were really looking forward to participating in “What A Girl Wants,” as the fundraiser would have ensured funds for providing counselling for young mothers and children were in place, and would have funded their weekly programs throughout the 2020-21 season.

Stepping Stones quickly adapted their programming to continue serving young women and families when the pandemic hit.

They developed a weekly package pick up, meeting women in the First Baptist Church’s parking lot. They also have a virtual skills learning session on Thursdays.

“We anticipate continuing on with our programming and have faith that our needs will be provided for.

“The people of Ponoka have been incredibly generous and it has been a privilege serving in this community. Hopefully we will be able to run the fundraiser next June.”

CAWES serves the central Alberta region, from Rocky Mountain House to Stettler, and from Ponoka to Olds. For them, the ladies brunch, along with its Ribfest that would have been held in August, are the shelter’s two major annual fundraising events.

“Losing both of these events for 2020 is leaving us short on some much-needed operating funds,” said Kirton.

“We are now trying to come up with other solutions in order to recoup some of these funds.”

CAWES has created a new fundraising event and is calling on brides, whether they’ve been married for 20 years or are newly weds, to take part.

Six women who raise the most funds ( a minimum of $600) for CAWES will get to participate in a “Trash Your Dress for CAWES” event on Sunday, August 16.

Each participating bride will receive hair styling and make-up, a limo ride to their photo shoot location, and will get to work with six central Alberta photographers.

Your dress won’t actually get trashed — unless you want to — but it may get a bit dirty or wet.

To sign up, call 403-352-4080 or email

For more information check out their Facebook page, @TrashYourDressforCAWES, or visit

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Chicks for Charity donated $17,630 to Stepping Stones from their 2019 event. L-R: Glenda Gaudet, Kerry Bonnett, Jane Wierzba (Chicks), Katie Peters, Brittany Koleba (Stepping Stones) and Judy Dick (Ponoka News, publisher).

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