2008 Gala Success

Event sponsors included Conoco Phillips, Centre Street Church, Investors Group, 360 Financial Serivces, and Pembina; and Global Television’s Cara Fullerton was the night’s MC. Calgary Alderman Joe Connelly and the Honourable Alana DeLong, MLA for Calgary Bow were among the guest. Both brought greeting on behalf of the City and Province, as well as their sincere gratitude for Sonshine’s service to Calgary over the past 30 years.

The tears and excitement came to a climax when representatives from the Canadian Progress Club, City Centre presented Sonshine with a surprise $50,000 donation.

As one of only three second-stage shelters in Calgary, The Sonshine Centre currently hosts thirty-five percent of Calgary’s current residential capacity for those seeking long-term refuge from domestic abuse, including those in the worst life-threatening situations. “It’s impossible for women to acquire the counseling and training they need in just the three weeks they are in an emergency shelter. They need longer-term support to heal emotionally from the trauma, to learn to become better parents, to get training to become self-sufficient, and most importantly to learn to stop the cycle of domestic abuse,” says Geri Karsten, Acting Executive Director for Sonshine Community Services.

To get an idea of how vast the problem of domestic abuse is, picture 12,000 women and children being resident in Alberta’s shelters from April 2007 to May 2008; now picture 14,000 more being turned away because shelters were full. Sonshine is doing its part to address this issue. In May 2007, Sonshine moved into a new facility that resulted in a one-hundred percent increase in the number of families they are able to serve. And like this previous Sonshine client, many other women in the community are finding hope, healing, and restored dignity. For more information about Sonshine Community Services or to learn about how you can support them, visit or call Tania Evans at 403.243.2002.

Calgary, AB-It was difficult to find a dry eye last Thursday evening at Sonshine Community Services’ annual Gala and Auction. As part of the event, previous clients of the Sonshine Centre, a second-stage shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse, shared powerful stories of escaping domestic abuse. Some details of their stories were very difficult to hear; yet for all who were there, the cause they were supporting suddenly had a very real face.

Free at last, one previous client recalled her life with an abusive partner. “We got home and I remember the look in his eyes, I remember telling the boys to get to bed, than a blur and pain…I can still remember the ringing in my ears when he threatened to kill me, and I remember a little voice crying beside me ‘Don’t hurt mommy’…All I could think of at the time was, ‘We can’t die like this’.” Speaking of her experience with The Sonshine Centre, this previous client said, “They gave me the confidence to be able to stand up and do something as simple as say no; to set boundaries in both mine and my children’s lives…To me Sonshine is Family. They are the centre of the family I’ve been working very hard now for years to build for my sons.”