100 Women Who Care: Latest donation supports addictions recovery

New Day in the Peace Ministries has received a $11,200 boost that will help finish building a recovery centre for women battling addictions.

The organization walked away with the funds at the third meeting of 100 Women Who Care Fort St. John in support of local charities on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

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"It's awesome," said director Anita McKnight, noting the project has been entirely community funded since construction began in August 2017.

The ministry is a faith-based non-profit currently helping two woman in recovery, but the ministry has outgrown its space. The new centre, located off the Airport Road, will increase capacity to seven, McKnight said, and the new donation will help finish the interior including bathrooms and a kitchenette.

Naomi Larson told the 112 women who gathered at the Lido that she recently found herself turning to New Day after twice trying to commit suicide, and struggling with alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder through a violent and abusive marriage.

She tried three expensive treatment centres but always found herself relapsing. It wasn't until a relative suggested New Day after her most recent hospitalization that she found safety, security, and genuine care, Larson said.

"This was my last kick at the can," she said. "This decision has literally saved my life. I feel like I'm starting to heal."

Addictions and broken lifestyles affect everyone, McKnight said. It's human connection that helps break the cycle, and helped make a difference with Larson sharing her story, she said.

"People really get to learn what we're about," McKnight said. "It makes it real for people."

McKnight hopes the centre will be open before Christmas, with a grand opening in the spring.

Other charities need help too

The Northern Dance Theatre Society and the Fort St. John Literacy Society also made their pitch for funding Tuesday night.

The NDTS has been promoting dance in the north since 1985, and performed a short dance routine for attendees. Dancers shared testimonials about the positive impact dance has had on their lives, from learning discipline and work ethic, to building trust and improving communication.

It costs roughly $128,000 to run the society every year and, after membership fees, around $75,000 is fundraised through concessions, bake sales, auctions, costume rentals and more.

The society offers lessons and scholarships, and covers the cost of festival entry fees for dancers. It's expanded to include anti-bullying and nutritional programming, and ensures its dancers are active in the community. That includes volunteering with Tapping Into Talent, performing for seniors in Taylor at Christmas, and collecting food donations for the women's centre.

"We want our dancers to understand they have a part to play in our community," said Heather Brooks, society president.

The Fort St. John Literacy Society was hoping to secure funding to help cover the first year of costs for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in the region, and put books into the hands of kids.

The society is the regional affiliate for the program, which will deliver a book a month to registered kids in the first five years of their life. By the time they turn five, they'll have 60 books in their library, said Jessica Kalman, executive director.

"Intellectual development for our youth is a must have, not a nice to have," Kalman said.

September is Literacy Month in Fort St. John, and there are one billion people worldwide who are illiterate, Kalman said. That's more than the number of people who die from cancer, or struggle with diabetes or heart disease, she said. And it affects a person's ability to identify, understand, interpret, and communicate properly and effectively, making it difficult to break cycles of hunger, poverty, and crime, she said.

"If this was classified as a health issue, it would be an epidemic," Kalman said.

Coming up

100 Women have now donated $32,800 since launching in fall 2017 with a simple concept — at least 100 women getting together to donate $100 each to a local worthy cause. 

The North Peace Ride for the Disabled received $11,500 at the inaugural event, and the Fort St. John Fire Fighters Charitable Society received $10,100 in the spring.

Adam Winn, president of the firefighters charity, said funding for his organization was immediately able to help a young family that had recently moved to Fort St. John, and had pregnancy complications with their son, Theodore. Covering their high costs of travel to and from Vancouver, as well as accommodations, helped take a burden off the family, he said.

"The help truly meant a lot," said Winn, reading a letter from the family. 

The firefighter's medical travel fund has covered $100,000 in costs for families in need since launching in 2017, Winn said. 

100 Women will hold their next event Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at the Lido.

Organizer Tara Waddy said she hopes to see the theatre sold out to capacity at 300 — or more.

"We dare the fire department to come tell us we're overcapacity," she quipped.

Learn more about the group by visiting facebook.com/100wwcfsj.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright 2018 Alaska Highway News

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