Ponoka’s Altitude Spa celebrates 10 year anniversary

Kim Green, owner of Altitude Spa, poses for a photo next to images from the orphanage in Kampala, Uganda. Photo by Emily Jaycox
Brenda Wiese speaks at Altitude Spa Feb. 27. Photo by Emily Jaycox
“The Great Canadian Woman — She is Strong and Free,” which Brenda Wiese wrote a chapter in, was being sold during the anniversary celebration. Photo by Emily Jaycox

Altitude Spa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in style, with the announcement of its new charity, Altitude Binding Hands Project, as well as hosting a guest speaker, Brenda Wiese for her hometown book debut.

The Binding Hands Project will raise funds for different causes by holding a day once every quarter (four Sundays a year) where the proceeds go to their charity of choice.

On those days, the public can make appointments for dental and spa and 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to charity.

Altitude Spa owner Kim Green says that women sometimes feel guilty when they choose to pamper themselves, but if they book an appointment on a Binding Hands Project Sunday, they can get some self-care and feel good they’re supporting a worthy cause at the same time.

The first such Sunday will be April 5, with all funds raised going to an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, which is in need of a washroom and shower facility.

Ponoka resident Kandice Heltman is long-time friends with the director of the orphanage, and brought the idea to Altitude Spa.

“They (Altitude Spa) had hearts big enough to stretch across the ocean,” said Heltman.

“They decided to jump on board.”

The orphanage was getting desperate to find support to finish the build and was starting to lose hope, says Heltman.

The orphanage houses between 100 to 200 children on three acres of land that was recently purchased, and needs $5,500 to finish the facilities to the bare minimum livability.

The orphanage employs widows and strives to keep the family unit together.

For the last three years, the spa has been trying to decide how it can give back, says Green.

The team has felt inspired to come together and make a difference, which is they they decided to start the Altitude Binding Hands Project.

On the four Sundays a year, the staff will volunteer their time for dental hygiene and spa services, and Green is donating the facility and resources.

The team will decide together each quarter where the proceeds will go.

Although the idea is to give back locally, the orphanage is in immediate need, and there is a local connection with Heltman, says Green.

If the first Sunday doesn’t raise as much as the orphanage needs, the spa will consider putting the next Sunday’s proceeds to the orphanage as well.

Other Binding Hands Project Sundays will be June 7, Sept. 13 and Dec. 6.

Book debut

Wiese, a Ponoka local, shared her story of traumatic loss, telling about how her son Brett was murdered in 2013, and all the emotions and the struggle to find purpose that followed.

Brett was about to leave a house party in Calgary and was waiting for a taxi when he was stabbed.

READ MORE: “Gentle” Ponoka man murdered at Calgary party

Throughout two convictions, one appeal and three trials, Wiese spent a total of 100 days in court seeking justice for her son.

Following his death, she says she was under a “magnitude of grief” and was in survival mode.

At some point, she started to feel a pull inside, leading her to try to do some good with the tragedy she experienced.

She was also desperate to find some evidence that her grief was survivable.

Although she found strength and wisdom from difference sources, she says “at the end of the day it was a journey we had to travel alone.”

She wanted to find a purpose, and she found some catharsis in writing her words down in a chapter that is now part of a book, “The Great Canadian Woman — She is strong and free.”

The project was a collaboration between Sarah Swain and 13-co authors, including Wiese.

The process of writing itself was therapeutic for Wiese, who says it was a “dumping place” for her emotions.

“It takes the hold away, just to get the words on paper,” she said.

“It was absolutely the best thing I could’ve done.”

She now hopes to be for other people, the person she was looking for in the days after she lost her son.

The book was on sale during the anniversary event for $20.

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