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Calendars girls present early donation to help complete County’s first emergency shelter

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Alternatives for Women received a much-needed $12,000 boost toward finishing the restoration of Vi’s Place.

The Ladies on the Rocks – a group of 21 women from Wellington on the Lake adult community, decided an early contribution from their ‘Calendar Girls’ project was necessary to shore funding for the first emergency shelter of its kind in the charity’s history, and in the County.

Last year, The Ladies on the Rocks posed in their birthday suits at various Prince Edward County businesses, to create a fundraising calendar in support of women. It was released this spring. Their charity of choice was the County’s Alternatives for Women, a not-for-profit organization offering confidential help for abused women in Prince Edward County.

The calendar was based on the blockbuster British movie ‘Calendar Girls’, a true story of a group of middle-aged Women’s Institute members from Yorkshire who produced a tastefully nude calendar to raise money for leukemia research, honouring the recent cancer death of a member’s husband.

Caroline Granger, Alternatives for Women chair, left, receives $12,000 from Christine Trulsen, of Ladies on the Rocks.

Saturday, the Ladies presented its first donation – $12,000 to Alternatives for Women during a coffee morning held at the Wellington on the Lake Recreation Centre.

Present from Alternatives for Women were Caroline Granger, board chair and Leah Morgan, executive director, as well as many of the Ladies on the Rocks, spouses, supporters and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.

“We have all worked very hard to make our goal of a significant contribution to help support women in need in Prince Edward County,” said Christine Trulsen, one of the organizers, and a Ladies on the Rocks member.

“After months of selling our calendar in the County at special events, at the Wellington Famers’ Market and through various County vendors, we are so happy; emotionally, completely overwhelmed, to be able to make our first contribution.”

The funds, originally to be presented at the end of the year once sales of the calendars wrapped up, comes early. It was decided a first installment would be presented to the charity now because of the desperate need to complete restoration work on the home. The final contribution will come at the end of November.

The urgency came earlier this summer when expected funding fell through, and Alternatives and supporters have been scrambling to come up with the shortfall in order to finish the project.

Plan showing out side of Vi’s Place.

Vi’s Place, an historic home purchased by Alternatives for Women, will become a permanent base for Alternatives for Women and will provide accommodations in the form of four transitional housing units and an apartment.

Alternatives for Women has been in the County for 30 years and serves more than 250 women each year. Alternatives offers a crisis line, transportation, transitional help, housing in the community and counselling.

Trulsen thanked partners, friends, neighbours, the amazing WOTL community and all the vendors who continue to sell the calendars.

“We hope that this first installment will help to finish Vi’s place, a shelter for women who need assistance escaping domestic abuse,” she said.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish,” said Trulsen, quoting former first lady Michelle Obama.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis congratulated the Ladies on the Rocks on their fundraising efforts.

“I was here four months ago (for the launch) and what an incredible idea, he said noting excellence in raising significant funds over the past four months. “There’s more to come and I know the community has got right behind this.”

Calendar photos by Dave Robinet. This one taken at Sunflower Fields Ice Cream shop on County Road 10.

Caroline Granger, chair of Alternatives for Women, noted it was soon after the April launch of the calendar that they found out part of their funding wasn’t going to be available for the build.

“We were in a bit of a panic, and that’s actually why we are having this early meeting,” said Granger.

Alternatives for Women also set up a GoFundMe account recently to help supplement the shortfall. Granger was pleased to announce nearly $38,000 of their $50,000 goal has been raised to date.

“I’ll probably sleep tonight,” said Granger, “this is super exciting.”

“We will continue to support women in our beautiful Prince Edward County to reach their goals, and may this donation help those people find shelter first, to find their voice and to find the strength to find themselves,” added Trulsen.

The 2020 calendar is still available at several locations throughout the County for $20. To donate directly to Alternatives for Women for the Vi’s Place restoration project, visit: ca.gofundme.com/f/alternatives-for-women-needs-your-help.

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