Helping seniors has never been so fashionable

Walk the runway and strut your stuff, Markham. The Colours of Autumn luncheon and fashion show is back, and bigger than ever.

The Markhaven Foundation is once again hosting the event to raise funds for the Markhaven Home for Seniors. The luncheon at the Crystal Fountain starts at 12:30 p.m., with boutiques opening up at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $75 each.

The longstanding event has brought together community members and local businesses to improve quality of life for Markhaven’s residents. In particular, local clothing retailers Eleven Joseph Fashions, Hartman, Jillian’s and Peppertree Klassics have opened up their inventories to clothe the fashion show’s models. While fashions are front and centre, the event isn’t just for fashionistas, says Laurie McClelland, Markhaven Foundation director.

She anticipates the event will sell all of its 500-plus tickets again this year, which speaks to the popularity of the fundraiser.

“It’s because it’s a fun event,” she says. “With a lot going on—boutiques, raffles, silent auctions—and because the fashion show is always top-notch with local retailers. People come and bring their friends, work colleagues, family members and they look forward to a very fun, entertaining afternoon.”

While many attendees pop over from work for the luncheon, McClelland encourages people to leave enough time to stroll through the boutiques, which make Colours of Autumn one of the more unique events in Markham’s calendar. All vendors are hand-selected by the Markhaven Foundation’s organizing team, which aims to showcase both variety and quality.

This year, shoppers can choose from handcrafted jewelry, sculptures, origami owl charms, sculptures for home decoration and kitchen gifts, to name a few options. With the holidays nearing, there will also be a Christmas craft stand.

From the vendors to the sponsors, everyone involved is there because they support the work Markhaven does.

“The fashion show is a lot of fun, and the fashion retailers put a lot of work into it, but it’s my perspective that it’s just an overall fun event from beginning to end,” McClelland says. “And everyone knows it’s for a good cause. They know we’re non-profit and all proceeds actually go directly to our residents.”

Each year, the Markhaven management team decides where funds are most needed. The money raised from the fashion show goes to things that aren’t covered by the public funding the Markhaven Home for Seniors receives.

“The (government) funding pays for all the basics, but anything we want to do for the home we have to pay for,” McClelland notes. “For example, last year, in our Alzheimer’s unit, we very much wanted to put an aquarium, but to buy one is a big deal. We just don’t have the funding for that. Or something like upgrading our sun rooms or buying really nice outdoor furniture.”

Though Markhaven receives donations throughout the year, the fashion show is its only major annual fundraiser. Save for McClelland, all involved in putting the event together year-round are volunteers, meaning money raised goes directly to residents. This year’s proceeds are earmarked to upgrading the residents’ balcony.

Without donations to the foundation, McClelland says it just couldn’t happen. While these are not medically necessary, she said they go along way towards the resident experience.

“Our residents live here,” she said. “We are a medical facility with 24-hour nursing and two doctors. And everybody who lives here has special needs. They need daily assistance. And in order to turn it from feeling like a medical facility into feeling like their home, this is what we need. That’s what the foundation does. It turns the facility into a home for the residents so they can be proud of it.”

If you go…

Markhaven Foundation’s Colours of Autumn luncheon and fashion show

Oct. 17. Boutiques open at 10:30 a.m.; luncheon starts at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets: $75, available by calling 905-201-3375 or emailing laurie.mcclelland@markhaven.ca.

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