Summer Soiree: Local businesses come together in support of Optimism Place

Local organizers came together to host a “Summer Soiree” for a good cause and raised $20,000 in support of Optimism Place in August.

Dressed in white, attendees gathered at Knox Church for the evening event. Initially intended to be held at Bru Gardens, the rain put a slight damper on the organizers Angie Norman and Melissa Orr’s plan. They did make the best of it, and the last-minute location turned out to be a great spot for the exciting evening.

This fundraiser was a locally grown event, meaning the organizers were all local business owners. The entertainment for the evening featured two local artists, Ethan McCarroll and Maggie Fosterand, who entertained the crows throughout the event.

The event sponsors were a key element in making the night possible. Selena Jones, Optimism Place Fundraising and Community Engagement Lead, said, “We're thrilled to have Brü Garden and Katie DeBlock Boersma as our title sponsors for the event. Along with ten other event sponsors, we're grateful for the support of numerous businesses and individuals in the community.”

“The community has, and continues to be, a major supporter of Optimism Place and tour mission.” Notes Jones, “This is the first time we've run a fundraiser of this kind, and the support from local businesses, organizations, and individuals has blown us away.”

All of the funding from the Summer Soiree went directly towards Optimism Place, and thanks to last-minute sponsors to cover the cost of the back-up event space, every dollar was donated to support women and children in the community.

Optimism Place was purpose-built in 1983 and has remained open and operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This means the business is consistently staffed and always available to respond to the acute needs of women and children in the community. Jones notes, “As you can imagine, this comes with its challenges. Through the pandemic, it became abundantly clear that our organization had to make changes to accommodate the growing rates of domestic violence.” She continued, “In 2021, Optimism Place had to turn away over 300 women - a heartbreaking reality due to a lack of residential space and resources.”

In 2022, Optimism Place embarked on a historical building expansion to support the growing need. This new build is set for completion later this winter. The proceeds from the Summer Soirée event will go directly towards the Building on Hope Capital Campaign, which Jones notes “supports the building expansion.”

As a women's shelter, Optimism Place knows how difficult it is to talk about the ways domestic violence permeates the community. Jones noted, “It was important for us to not only hold a fundraiser that brought community members together but also to educate the community on the reality of domestic violence in Perth County.”

Amanda Modaragamage, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stratford Times