ATHABASCA — For eight of the past 10 years, men from around the region have forced their feet into women’s shoes to help raise money to aid victims of domestic violence in Athabasca, but the pandemic has changed it a bit.
In response to the pandemic in 2020 the Athabasca and Area Prevention of Relationship Abuse Committee (PRAAC) created a video to help with fundraising but this year it will be back to walking, albeit virtually, in recognition of the 10 years the nonprofit has been supporting Thrive, the program run by Healthy Families Healthy Futures.
“Last year, everybody kind of stepped up and we met our goal whereas this year, we said we need to get the men back (involved),” said PRAAC secretary Tamara Yurchak Sept. 2. “And so that's why we did a call out to the members similar as to what we've always done in the past; put it out Facebook posts, social media stuff.”
For eight years the fundraiser averaged 20 men who raised funds ahead of time and many more who showed up the second Friday in September donning high heel women's shoes and boots to show support and unity with those impacted by intimate partner and domestic abuse.
“Our sign-up has been a little bit thin,” Yurchak said. “We are at seven and we were hoping for 25 guys this year. So, we wanted to put a little bit different aspect with it (and) contacted the Athabasca Pottery Club to see if they can make us medal, like you only get in a virtual race.”
All men need to do is sign up on the PRAAC website and collect $200 in donations to qualify for a one-of-a-kind medal. And because they are handmade by local makers, they are each unique.
“We've extended the fundraising to Oct. 12, since we've gone virtual this year,” she said. "So, at this point, we're at 37 per cent of our goal, because our goal this year is now $23,000 – it's always been $15,000 – but because of some government grants not being there in order to keep the same hours, Healthy Families Healthy Futures needs an extra $8,000 to balance the budget.”
And during the pandemic the workload increased as the stress of the pandemic and lock downs precipitated an increase in domestic violence.
“The men can collect donations the old-fashioned way with pledge forms or we've asked them to utilize canadahelps.org and create their own fundraising page,” she said.
On the Canada Helps web page, Thrive is part of the Healthy Families Healthy Futures non-profit covering Athabasca, Barrhead, Lac La Biche, Lac St. Anne, Mayerthorpe, Smoky Lake, Thorhild, Westlock and Whitecourt, or you can click on the link on the PRAAC website to take you to the exact page.