by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF), a non-profit organization from Morinville that will be opening a women’s shelter in the area and who raises awareness on the realities of domestic violence, is hosting its third annual Break Free Gala, on Oct. 28. The event, which takes place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, will showcase a major announcement regarding JMMF’s forthcoming shelter.
“[At the Gala] last year, we had a big announcement,” explained Kris Porlier, a JMMF representative who was referring to the big reveal made at the previous year’s event where the Town of Morinville donated a piece of land to the organization for their women’s shelter.
“…This year, though,—without giving out too many details just yet—we can say [the announcement] is going to be even bigger.” Porlier said some of the details are currently being finalized.
All proceeds from the Break Free Gala will go towards building a safe haven for domestic violence victims, says the organization, which is hoping to see a significant number of tickets sold for the event.
According to JMMF, representatives from various levels of government will all be in attendance on Oct. 28, including MLA Glen Van Dijken, officials from local municipalities (such as the Towns of Morinville and Gibbons), and others from the Province.
“This time of year is a perfect time to promote the foundation,” said Porlier, “and raise more awareness [on domestic violence].” October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Masters of Ceremony for the 2017 Break Free Gala is Danny Hooper. Described as a “date night out,” the event requires formal attire and includes dinner, a cash bar, and later in the evening, a DJ.
There will be a live and silent auction. Porlier indicated there are major prizes up for grabs, such as: a wine tree (which is made up of 100 different bottles of wine, all of which are valued at $20 per bottle, or more), a trip to Phoenix (AZ), a houseboat trip to Sicamous (BC), hot air balloon rides, skydiving packages, date-nights for a year, just to name a few.
JMMF depends in large part on the generosity of people and business to pull together such a big event. “To be honest, we would not be successful without the leadership and commitment of so many businesses and individuals,” said Porlier, who added some supporters are based out of Morinville while others are from outside the community, too.
In particular, he remarked, the Town of Morinville, which donated land and the time and expertise of their elected officials and administration has really “blown [JMMF] away.” Home Hardware, Bumper to Bumper, Morinville’s Dairy Queen, and HIS Trucking are also businesses from the community that Porlier singled out as having been unyielding in their support of JMMF over the years.
The Break Free Gala is JMMF’s major fundraising event (and a way the organization can further bring awareness to the issue of domestic and family violence) for the new shelter. In its first year, JMMF raised about $10,000 from the Gala and doubled that amount in its second year. This year, the organization is hoping to continue to build on their past successes.
JMMF’s President, Lynne Rosychuk, said she is very pleased the event is continuing for another year, and that coming together for the Gala is a way to honour the life of her daughter, Jessica Martel, and of other victims of domestic violence.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment in how many people we are raising awareness with,” she said, “also, that Jessica’s life mattered, and so do the lives of other victims. It continues to show by how many people continue to support us, and how each year we have grown and gotten better!”
Tickets to JMMF’s Break Free Gala are currently for sale and can be purchased online (note, tickets are limited). More information can be found on the organization’s website.