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Ladies on the Rocks bare all in support of Alternatives for Women

Caroline Granger (Alternatives for Women chair), MPP Todd Smith, MP Neil Ellis, PEC mayor Steve Ferguson and councillor Mike Harper listen to Christine Trulsen, Ladies on the Rocks organizer, tell the crowd at the Wellington on the Lake recreation centre about the project.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Twenty-one County women who beared all to break the silence and support abused women, launched their fundraising calendar before a full house at the Wellington on the Lake Recreation Centre Saturday.

‘The Ladies on the Rocks 2020 calendar began with a simple idea, then gathered speed through a year of planning and production. Their calendar, based on the theme of the British movie Calendar Girls, features the feisty females tastefully baring all for for a good cause, in numerous local scenes.

They chose Prince Edward County’s Alternatives for Women as their charity of choice, with all proceeds going to the organization which has served women in the area for 30 years.

“This charity runs under the radar, so Alternatives for Women was the perfect fit and it was also perfect timing because they had just bought a shelter that needed renovating,” said Ladies on the Rocks member Brenda Little.

“Many of the 21 women came out of their comfort zones big-time and that empowered them to do this calendar. And likewise, the women that require these services are empowered to get to Alternatives for Women and they get help,” said Little. “For me, it’s coming from the heart that we are able to help women and that’s what is important to me, to help women here.”

“The women who participated all challenged their self-esteem and their level of comfort. Many of the women had never done anything like that in their lives and I have a sense that we all grew by doing that; friendships developed, problems or illnesses were shared and support was given, but we all grew. We are better today I think than we were when we started.”

The women who posed in the calendar are Barbara, Barbie, Bev, Brenda, Carmela, Carol Anne, Cathy, Cindy, Christine, Elaine, Ingrid, Karen, Heather, Helga, Lesley, Linda, Maryse, Maureen, Nancy, Pam and Roz.

Chrisine Trulsen describes the calendar as a piece of art and heart.

“It has been one year full of excitement, fun, work, friendship, tears and never-ending focus on our goal to raise funds to support Alternatives for Women.”

“I long thought of how or what to compare this project of heart and determination to,” she said. “For all of us women, this calendar project represents the experience of delivering a child, and many of us know about the special feeling of delivery, the hard labour, the anxiety, the joy of finally holding the ‘baby’ in your arms. Our ‘baby’, the 2020 Ladies on the Rocks calendar, has arrived, or shall I say has been delivered,” said Trulsen.

Alternatives for Women chair Caroline Granger and counsellor Kelly Knott were special guests at the launch, with MPP Todd Smith, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson and Wellington councillor Mike Harper.

Caroline Granger, Alternatives for Women chair.

Granger said Alternatives has been making a difference in the community for more than 250 women a year, offering a crisis line, counselling, transportation and transitional help and housing in the community. This year, Alternatives is poised to launch a new shelter.

“Prince Edward County has never had a shelter or a shelter bed in all its history,” Granger said, adding “The current ratio of women who will experience abuse in their life is startling for most of us; it ranges between one in four and one in five. If you look around this room, there are women here who have stories, said Granger.

“On average, every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16,” she said.

Education and income levels do not affect the level of risk she said, noting that in Canada, all other forms of violence are on the decline, but gender-based violence remains unchanged.

“I’m particularly touched because we’re here to talk about something that we almost never want to talk about,” said Granger. She thanked the Ladies on the Rocks for their courage, and for showing all that women, of all ages, are beautiful.

Impressed by the support of the community for the calendar, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis said he would have a great story to tell fellow parliamentarians when he got back to Ottawa on Monday. He jovially noted his concern before getting to the launch. “How do you dress to go meet some naked women?”

The light-hearted spirit continued with MPP Todd Smith telling husbands and partners of the Ladies on the Rocks not to get any ideas, because he didn’t want to see any ‘men and their rocks’ next year.”

Councillor Harper said he was overwhelmed when the doors opened to see so many people flooding in.

“This is a great example of Wellington on the Lake’s community spirit, and I don’t think you get enough credit for what you do in the community, and I hope people realize the great contributions you do make.”

Margaret, a survivor of domestic violence and abuse, spoke to her experiences with Alternatives for Women.

“I am an example of what Alternatives for Women can do for all women,” she said. “I decided to take some time to set up a little group for women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse, to help each other out and to support each other through this tough time.

“I know what it’s like to be silenced and I know what it’s like to live in fear, she continued, because I have experienced that as a child and as an adult. I decided to help other women and let them know they are not alone and we are here for them, to help them through this.”

Prince Edward County Women Against Violence Everywhere (PEC WAVE) meets every other week at the Alternatives for Women location. Margaret says survivors and supporters are welcome. Members, she noted, are not trained counsellors, but as a group, they support and help one another grow and heal from forms of abuse and violence.

PEC WAVE can be reached on Facebook (Pec Wave) or by emailing: princeedwardcountywave@outlook.com .

A public launch of the Ladies on the Rocks 14-month 2020 calendar will take place on Saturday, April 20 from 1-4pm at the Grange of Prince Edward Winery, 990 Closson Road in Hillier.

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

Calendars will be available for purchase at the public launch, and are on sale now at various outlets in the County, as well as at all participating location businesses, including Prince Edward County Lavender, The Manse Boutique Inn and Spa, Midtown Brewing Company, Festival Players of Prince Edward County, The June Motel, Sunflower Fields Ice Cream Shoppe, Grange of Prince Edward Estate Vineyard and Winery, Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre, Lockyer’s Country Gardens, Stache on Main Piano Lounge and Gallery, Hagerman Farms and By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery and Vineyard.

“This is not about us anymore. This is about making much needed funds,” said Trulsen. “The cause is what deeply touched us.”

Proceeds from the sale of the $20 calendars go to Alternatives for Women, and specifically to the newly-purchased shelter property ‘Vi’s Place’, in Picton.

For businesses or individuals interested in purchasing a large number of calendars, or to make a financial donation, contact Cathy Ness at lotr.treasurer@gmail.com.

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