BY KALISHA MENDONSA
This year’s CAWESino Royale event, hosted by the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) is going to be an impactful one, as it will feature a special guest speaker this year.
Tickets are $150 for an individual, with tables of eight for $1,200.
On March 11th at 5 p.m. the CAWES team will host the grand gala, with dinner, drinks and a special presentation by a young woman who has benefited from the services of CAWES and other similar agencies.
Amber, whose last name has been withheld for privacy, will share her powerful story of how she was able to leave a domestic violence situation and grow to where she is now.
CAWES Executive Director Ian Wheeliker said this will be a powerful centrepiece to the evening.
“This year, we have a former client, Amber, who is going to share her story of moving out of domestic violence and getting her life on track. That’s kind of a rare thing – so many of the women we work with don’t want to publicly talk about their stories, and don’t want to draw attention to themselves,” said Wheeliker.
“For the young woman who will be sharing her story, she sees it as part of her journey and part of her healing. I think that will be a highlight of the night,” he added.
This presentation is naturally of a heavy subject matter, however Wheeliker said it’s important to hear these stories as it reminds workers and supporters of the importance of agencies such as CAWES.
“It’s a first-hand account from a woman who has lived through domestic violence. There are not many women who are ready and prepared to talk about their story. For the people who believe in our work, and believe in our agency as a necessary service, it’s going to be amazing for them to hear her story. It’s very powerful.”
He added that it’s very difficult for many people to understand the complexity of the struggle for those who are trying to get out of a violent situation.
“It’s never as easy as making a single decision.”
Guests will be able to hear this touching presentation before taking up the celebration of the CAWESino Royale event. It is, as Wheeliker said, an evening to celebrate successes, efforts and programs that help people rise out of their situations.
As well, guests will be able to hear a little bit about what the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter does on a day-to-day basis with their clients, including information on new programs.
One of the new programs that will be shared is the Nurturing Parent Program, or NPP. The focus of this is program is prevention, and working with families that have young children.
Wheeliker said this is an extremely valuable program because it gives parents the skills to cope with stress and anger, so that situations do not escalate to a level where police, child protection or lawyers need to be involved.
“NPP is about building adult relationships and parenting capabilities to learn how to act with compassion before problems start,” he said.
“One thing that we’ve learned is that there will never be enough shelters or bedrooms or apartments – we have to work in the community, and work with the families that are at risk of experiencing domestic violence.”
All funds raised through this year’s gala will go towards supporting CAWES programs, specifically the Children’s Healing Centre.
“There are so many people throughout Central Alberta who believe in the work that we do, and they support us in all kinds of different ways. Our gala event is one of our biggest events throughout the year and a time to show our thanks to those people.”
Tickets will be on sale until approximately March 5th and Wheeliker said he’s really hoping to sell out once more, and see many new faces at the grand event.