Walk a Mile event raises $28,000 for MFH
COLLINGWOOD — Heather Gilchrist couldn’t believe it.
The resident at My Friend’s House was looking out at a sea of men, all wearing red high heels.
“When you’re not feeling worthy, this just gives you an awesome boost of encouragement,” she said. “It was very emotional to see men support us, because it is men who brought us here.
“But this is so supportive, and it gives encouragement to those of us (who use the service).”
My Friend’s House held its second annual Walk a Mile in Her Heels on Saturday, as 64 men donned high heels and walked from the Federal Building to Hume Street, and back again, to raise money for the women’s crisis shelter, and awareness about domestic violence in the community.
“I’ve seen abuse, and we need a place for women to run to when they’re being terrorized,” said first-time walker Jim Findlay, who did the walk with a set of crutches because of torn ligaments in his knee.
My Friend’s House executive director Alison FitzGerald was ecstatic with the turnout, as well as the $28,000 the event raised; the money will help offset the more than $175,000 My Friend’s House needs to raise annually — outside of its provincial funding — in order to provide the basic necessities for the women and children who find refuge there.
“I get a little emotional, seeing this many men come out,” she said. “The work we do can feel so isolating at times, and to see so many men come out to support us, it just keeps us going.”
“I think it’s important that men are involved, to publicly display that this is not just a women’s issue,” said My Friend’s House board member Marty Wilkinson, who was walking for the second time. “Domestic violence is socially unacceptable, and men have to tell each other that.”
Another first-time walker, Warren Smith, acknowledged that there were “more comfortable shoes” to be in, but that this was an important cause. Smith was also a member of a team from Cranberry Resort, and Cranberry owner Larry Law was matching how much the team was able to fundraise — about $2,200.
“We try to give back to the community,” said Smith.
My Friend’s House board member Matt McLean, who’s been somewhat of a posterboy for the event these last two years, was amazed with the turnout.
“We plan and hope, but never know what to expect,” said McLean. “This town has rallied on what is a really busy weekend.”
“I’m just thrilled,” said My Friend’s House board chair Kimberley McNabb. “Our numbers are way up from last year, which means we’re reaching that many more men, and that message is reverberating through the community.”