By Chad Ingram
Published March 2 2017
An evening of storytelling and song on March 8 will not only celebrate International Women’s Day but also raise money for HERS (Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace).
The fundraiser which will feature the music of Zoe Chilco Cassidy Glecoff and Sage Christiano as well as inspirational storytelling will take place in the great hall at the Haliburton Fleming College campus.
The event is being organized by volunteer Bonnie Roe.
It came to light late last year that the Peterborough Haliburton YWCA had closed HERS – an emergency shelter located in Minden – for five months from late 2015 to spring of 2016 due to a lack of resources. Increased use of the shelter meant the organization had burned through its resources quicker than usual.
In early 2017 the YWCA starting canvassing local townships for one-time funding support and is seeking a total of $120000 for a two-year project that would include the continued operation of the shelter as well as a sustainability study on providing services in rural areas.
Haliburton County will be providing $25000 over two years.
“It’s a lot of money” Roe says of the deficit. “I didn’t realize that they had been closed.”
Roe a nurse by trade has a personal connection to HERS.
Back in the 1990s she was a volunteer at the women’s emergency house in Haliburton Village which was operated by SIRCH.
The emergency house was open from 1995 until 1998 when it closed due to lack of funding.
“I was part of a group that was being trained to provide 24/7 volunteer support for people” Roe says.
She and a group of eight or nine other women then set about organizing and fundraising for a new shelter HERS which would open in Minden.
“It was starting all over again” Roe says. “What would the model look like? Where would it be?”
She continued to be involved with fundraising for the facility into the early 2000s.
Last year the YWCA assisted some 125 women locally providing more than 670 outreach counselling sessions and fielding more than 1200 crisis calls. Isolation and lack of transportation can make Haliburton County a dangerous place for women with abusive partners some women staying with abusers in exchange for food and sex.
When Roe decided she wanted to organize a fundraiser for HERS she thought the upcoming International Women’s Day would be a logical time.
“What a perfect fit” she says “especially when you look at the momentum of the women’s marches across the world.”
In addition to the musical entertainment there will be speeches.
“There’s going to be a bit of a walk down memory lane about HERS” Roe says adding there will also be some history on International Women’s Day. “We have a couple of women who will share their stories about the support they received from HERS.”
The event runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with admission by donation.
County residents Susan and Keith Hay have pledged to match donations from individuals up to a maximum of $10000.
Sound for the event will be provided by Mark Christiano with promotion sponsored by Parker Pad and Printing.
Everyone is welcome.
“It’s not to alienate men it’s to bring everyone together” Roe says. “On all of these issues we have to work together.”