Above: Morinville Lions Club Past President Francis Fryters (left) and Lions Club President Deborah Robillard (right) presented a $1000 cheque to Lynne Rosychuk, President of the JMMF. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy

The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) board members, President Lynne Rosychuk, and Director of Fund Development and Public Relations Kris Porlier accepted a $1000 cheque on behalf of the Foundation Jan. 9. The cheque was presented by Morinville Lions Club President and Past President Francis Fryters. The monies were raised through the Lions golf tournament and the club’s meat draw fundraiser.

Porlier said the JMMF aims to assist victims of domestic violence in Morinville, Sturgeon County, and surrounding area and that the Lions Club donation will go towards the building of their shelter.

“We do have land and are hoping to break ground before our gala next year, which will be held in November,” Porlier said. “The home we are hoping to build will house anywhere between six to ten families, primarily with female victims of domestic violence; however, this year we had assisted our second male who was involved in an incident of domestic violence.”

Porlier said although he did not have the statistics with him, JMMF had helped several dozen people involved in domestic violence.

The Town of Gibbons has reached out to the JMMF and offered some cash as well as assistance. Bon Accord has also offered support. Porlier said the Town of Morinville has been incredible in their support to the foundation both with a recent gift of land as well as assisting them with infrastructure and assisting with expertise on the building of the shelter.

Porlier sad the group have recently struck two committees. The Fundraising Committee is primarily responsible for raising $2 million dollars, the goal for building the shelter and having the funds to operate it. They will need outreach workers, social workers, counsellors, vehicles, furniture and everything for inside the house.

The other committee JMMF have formed is the Housing Committee. That group is working with a local architect, who has volunteered to help JMMF with a design for the house.

Porlier said he just got back from Fort McMurray where they sat down with a home shelter manager who is involved in fund development in the Outreach Program. “They all were where we are four years ago,” Porlier said. “They were very excited to help us out. Their shelter has nine beds which services 36 women and children and any male or female up to the age of 18 as well as female victims.”

JMMF will also visit Cold Lake, St. Paul and Slave Lake to visit other shelters.

“The important thing is that we do not have any capacity to actually assist the victims within this area,” he said. “The municipalities of Alberta only have 32 that are actually equipped to deal with this problem, and it is a huge problem. Last year the Council of Women’s Shelters reported over 16,000 women and children who went without a shelter, they were potentially turned back to the street or had to go back to their abuser. And as a society, we can do better than that.”

Porlier went on to thank the Lions Club for their donation.

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