FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A crowd of 112 ladies packed the Lido Theatre on Tuesday night to each give away $100 to New Day in the Peace Ministries, one of three local charitable organizations that made pitches at the third meeting of the Fort St. John chapter of 100 Women Who Care.
The faith-based non-profit society helps women recover from drug addictions and domestic abuse, and since August 2017 has been building a new recovery centre near the Airport road that will increase its current capacity from two to seven.
Recovering addict Naomi Larson spoke on behalf of New Day in the Peace, saying that she turned to the ministry after her second attempted suicide just 67 days ago. She spoke about her struggle with alcoholism, using the substance to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a violent and abusive marriage that ended several years ago.
Larson said that since then, she had tried to seek help through numerous recovery programs, but that after finishing each program she would relapse into a worse state than before. She said that it was only during a recent hospitalization that a relative suggested she contact New Day in the Peace, which said was her “last kick at the can.”
“New Day in the Peace has given me a place to feel safe, secure, loved, and genuinely cared for. I finally have some peace in my heart and I’m finally feeling something that I never thought I’d feel again, which is hope for my future. That I have a future.”
In her pitch, director Anita McKnight spoke about the importance of ministry’s work in helping women recover from addictions, citing statistics from the ongoing opiate overdose epidemic in B.C. McKnight said that the ministry will use the funds to complete the interior of its new building.
The Fort St. John Literacy Society and the Northern Dance Theatre Society also made compelling pitches to the assembled crowd.
Over 20 of the Theatre Society’s current dancers took to the stage for the pitch, with past dancers giving testimonials in a powerpoint explaining the importance dance has played in their lives.
Of the roughly $128,000 in annual operating costs, Society president Hannah Brooks said that the dancers and parents raise $75,000 through running concessions, bake sales, and safety flagging during the annual motocross races.
Brooks said that the Society would have benefitted from the donation by providing more educational courses for its dancers.
Literacy Society executive director Jessica Kalman spoke about the society’s plans to use the funds to kick-start its participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides kids up to the age of 5 with one free age-appropriate book every month until their fifth birthday.
Kalman explained that illiteracy, or the inability to read and understand written information, affects over 1 billion people worldwide. By comparison, she cited World Health Organization statistics which show that worldwide, 8.2 million people die of cancer, 17.3 million people die of heart disease, and 422 million people live with diabetes every year.
Since last September, the 100 Women Who Care in the Energetic City has donated a total of $32,800 to three local organizations. In addition to Tuesday’s donation, the organization also donated $10,100 last spring to the Fort St. John Firefighters Charitable Society, and $11,500 to North Peace Ride for the Disabled.