Celebrate Women’s Day with many events

Mark your social calendars: March 8 is shaping up to be a very busy day in Markham – especially for the ladies.

It’s International Women’s Day, and organizations throughout York Region have big plans for the special occasion. Each local event is part of a multinational movement to recognize women and promote equality. This year, International Women’s Day is focusing on gender parity and inviting all participants to take a pledge to show their support.

“It’s not about just celebrating women, it’s about celebrating equality. I’m very pleased to see that there’s a growing recognition of women and women’s rights in this country,” said Lorris Herenda, executive director of the Yellow Brick House, an emergency shelter for women and children in York Region.

In honour of the big day, the Yellow Brick House is hosting its 11th annual Mending Hearts, Creating Dreams Gala on March 4. The swanky soiree is a big fundraiser for the non-profit, which sees up to 280 women and 180 children come through the doors of its Aurora and Markham emergency shelters each year.

Community support is critical for Yellow Brick House, which hasn’t managed to secure stable funding to operate its Markham shelter location. Though the non-profit raised enough to launch the facility in 2012, it costs the organization $650,000 every year to keep it open – something that puts a huge strain on the agency.

“It’s a challenge… Usually the message to us is (that) there isn’t additional funding,” said Herenda, who is hoping to raise $100,000 net profit through gala ticket sales, sponsorship, silent auction and live auction bids.

“We can’t even consider the potential of closing those shelter beds because these are lifesaving beds. We’re committed to keeping that shelter open and we couldn’t do it without the support of York Region.”

To that end, Yellow Brick House has set a $1.3 million fundraising goal for this year – a lofty sum that would help the agency run a balanced budget. Herenda said the agency is always looking for volunteers and donations to keep the essential service accessible.

Yellow Brick House is one of only a handful of agencies that provide emergency short-term shelter for women and children. Herenda said only 71 beds are available for a population of over 500,000 women and children in York Region.

“Hundreds of women and children cannot get a shelter bed in York Region because we’re full at all times,” she said. “We must keep those shelter beds open.”

Another crisis organization, Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region, is celebrating International Women’s Day in its own way. The agency is hosting a performance of The Vagina Monologues on March 8 in Newmarket. The event and silent auction will support the shelter and its community outreach programs.

Shelters aren’t the only groups getting in on the International Women’s Day action. The Markham Board of Trade is hosting a women’s networking luncheon at the Angus Glen Golf Club on March 8. For those able to get away from the office for a couple hours, the midday event boasts a panel of female business leaders, giveaways and boutique vendors.

For more information on International Women’s Day, or to find a registered event in your community, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.

Celebrate Women’s Day with many events

Jennifer Bieman

Mark your social calendars: March 8 is shaping up to be a very busy day in Markham – especially for the ladies.

It’s International Women’s Day, and organizations throughout York Region have big plans for the special occasion. Each local event is part of a multinational movement to recognize women and promote equality. This year, International Women’s Day is focusing on gender parity and inviting all participants to take a pledge to show their support.

“It’s not about just celebrating women, it’s about celebrating equality. I’m very pleased to see that there’s a growing recognition of women and women’s rights in this country,” said Lorris Herenda, executive director of the Yellow Brick House, an emergency shelter for women and children in York Region.

In honour of the big day, the Yellow Brick House is hosting its 11th annual Mending Hearts, Creating Dreams Gala on March 4. The swanky soiree is a big fundraiser for the non-profit, which sees up to 280 women and 180 children come through the doors of its Aurora and Markham emergency shelters each year.

Community support is critical for Yellow Brick House, which hasn’t managed to secure stable funding to operate its Markham shelter location. Though the non-profit raised enough to launch the facility in 2012, it costs the organization $650,000 every year to keep it open – something that puts a huge strain on the agency.

“It’s a challenge… Usually the message to us is (that) there isn’t additional funding,” said Herenda, who is hoping to raise $100,000 net profit through gala ticket sales, sponsorship, silent auction and live auction bids.

“We can’t even consider the potential of closing those shelter beds because these are lifesaving beds. We’re committed to keeping that shelter open and we couldn’t do it without the support of York Region.”

To that end, Yellow Brick House has set a $1.3 million fundraising goal for this year – a lofty sum that would help the agency run a balanced budget. Herenda said the agency is always looking for volunteers and donations to keep the essential service accessible.

Yellow Brick House is one of only a handful of agencies that provide emergency short-term shelter for women and children. Herenda said only 71 beds are available for a population of over 500,000 women and children in York Region.

“Hundreds of women and children cannot get a shelter bed in York Region because we’re full at all times,” she said. “We must keep those shelter beds open.”

Another crisis organization, Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region, is celebrating International Women’s Day in its own way. The agency is hosting a performance of The Vagina Monologues on March 8 in Newmarket. The event and silent auction will support the shelter and its community outreach programs.

Shelters aren’t the only groups getting in on the International Women’s Day action. The Markham Board of Trade is hosting a women’s networking luncheon at the Angus Glen Golf Club on March 8. For those able to get away from the office for a couple hours, the midday event boasts a panel of female business leaders, giveaways and boutique vendors.

For more information on International Women’s Day, or to find a registered event in your community, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.

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