Ponoka business steps up for evacuees

Local spa provides Fort McMurray evacuated women with a chance to relax

One of the many Altitude Laser Spa staff members that volunteered their time Sunday

As the recovery is just beginning for the City of Fort McMurray, a Ponoka business tried to do its part to help some of those evacuated to recover and heal from what they are going through.

Altitude Laser Spa owner Kim Green and all 17 of her staff volunteered their time and services to a few women that are staying in central Alberta after being forced out of their homes two weeks ago in Alberta’s largest evacuation ever by one of the biggest wildfires the province has seen in its history.

The spa opened its doors on Sunday, May 15 to six women who were nominated by an individual for a full day spa treatment that was completely donated by Green and everyone of her employees.

The goal was to give the women a chance to relax and let go of the stress that’s been a part of their lives since having to leave Fort McMurray.

“The idea came from Victoria Rose, one of the massage therapists here, as a way to give some of the mother’s who have had to relocate something for Mother’s Day,” Green said.

“I was so impressed with my entire team that volunteered their day and those that couldn’t, helped out in other ways to make this day special.”

Green explained there was a process to selecting those deserving individuals, which was done through social media.

“We reached out through our social media to let people know we were doing this and asked people to nominate those women. We then reached out and contacted six women in the area, who accepted the offer,” she said, adding one wasn’t able to make it due to a family illness though Green is hoping to be able to have the woman come another time.

“The spa industry has changed, it isn’t about luxury anymore. It’s more about stress reduction, relaxing and rejuvenation, giving them an escape from having to handle what they’ve been going through.”

And it was certainly appreciated by the women, three of whom wanted to talk about the day’s experience and what it means to them.

Tina and her husband are staying in Ponoka with some friends after evacuating their home in the Prairie Creek neighbourhood at the south end of the city. While her husband was recently called back to work at the Imperial Oil Kearl Lake Oilsands facility, Tina is so glad to have come to Ponoka.

“What this town has done is just phenomenal. We’ve been overwhelmed with the support from the community, they filled our friend’s garage a few times over,” she said, adding her friends have made a few trips to the northern evacuation centres with some of the supplies that have been donated.

“We just want this to be enough and get back to a more normal everyday life and this day helps. We are just waiting because we will go back and we’re one of the lucky ones as we know our place is still standing.”

One thing Tina knows, though, is that it could be more weeks or months before they are allowed home.

“We just have to hold out until they let us go back and I feel so welcomed here I might just apply for a job in town since I’m not used to figuring out what to do during the day.”

Another woman though isn’t so fortunate, as Nicole and her family lost their home in Waterways though they were able to save some possessions and some animals to bring to some property they have near Wetaskiwin. She had only a few minutes to gather up items along with food and water, managing to get the help of a neighbour to reach a nearby fire hall.

“We stuck together and I rode my horse down to the river and you could see the area half engulfed, hearing the roar of the fire, covered in soot,” she said.

It took about three days, she added, to get the soot out of her hair and off her skin, so the spa treatment was a welcome distraction. However, she and her husband are continuing to help their community by providing space at their property to other evacuees for themselves and animals.

The last evacuees not only lost her home in the Abasand area, but wasn’t even able to save any precious items.

Emma, who is 32 weeks pregnant, and her husband were on their way to her hometown of Penhold when the evacuation occurred, meaning they lost everything from mementos to clothes bought and given for their first child.

“This day means a lot, people willing to help out others. It’s a different feeling entirely, losing everything without even a chance to go back,” she said.

“The only thing I wish is that my husband could have a day like this, since he is taking the brunt of this and is really stressed.”

 

Just Posted

Ponoka council challenged on payments on new building

Resident continues worries the town is paying over $94,000 per month on something it may never own

Plan to pump into Gull Lake won’t happen in 2019

Two-stage filter process to be evaluated by Alberta Environment

Ponoka County denies rezoning over road responsibility issue

Application to parcel off land shot down by council due mainly to lack of access

Ponoka County council pleased with fire services budget

2019 budget presented to council include some higher operational costs

Ponoka Mayor presents to Lacombe Council reasons behind withholding school tax

Mayor Rick Bonnett requests a letter of support from the City of Lacombe

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Olivia and Liam top list for Alberta baby names in 2018

Premier Rachel Notley announced the top baby names in Alberta in 2018; Loki didn’t make the cut

Ponoka RCMP arrest man for impaired driving on QE2

Rocky Mountain House man arrested after erratic driving on the QE2

Edmonton Police charged 236 people with auto theft in 2018

Police states many of the thefts are crimes of opportunity

Official torchbearers for 2019 Canada Winter Games announced

Canada Games officials open time capsule from Grande Prairie Games in 1995

PHOTO: Telus donates $2,500 to Ponoka Big Brothers

Ponoka’s Big Brothers Big Sisters receives a $2,500 donation from Telus

Alberta Health Services, United Nurses of Alberta reach agreement to settle union grievance of nursing staffing shortage

Settlement includes the designation of 11.7 full-time-equivalent Registered Nurse relief positions

Woman’s complaint leads to sexual assault charge against Calgary priest

Malcolm Joe D’Souza, who is 62, has been charged with one count of sexual assault

Most Read