Celebrating 20 Years of Service
We asked Grace-Ann to share her story of how she got involved with Bethlehem and what her most memorable moments were.
In the fall of 1994, a parishioner at my church, St. George's Anglican, Betty Randle, asked if she could submit my name for a Board position at Bethlehem. Thus began a twenty-year journey that has so enriched my life.
My first Board meeting was in 1994. What a meeting it was! The elimination of all support funding for second stage housing in Ontario had just been announced – we wondered were we to be a Board for just an apartment building?
Fundraising became a more urgent activity. In the past I had organized a fashion show for our church and suggested we do one for Bethlehem. Working on a zero-dollar budget (everything was donated), a dedicated group of friends began work on the show. We had no idea what the outcome would be. The night of the show we had sold all 400 tickets and still people arrived. They stood and sat on chairs around the walls of the Canadian Polish Society Hall. It was amazing. Such a wonderful response from the community to the needs of Bethlehem. Over the next thirteen years we organized seven more fashion shows netting a total of over $65,000.
As Julie Dennis, the Executive Director at that time commented "We were not only raising dollars, we were raising friends for Bethlehem".
It is so heart-warming to look back and realize the literally hundreds of people who made the shows the successes they were - from the committee, models who ranged in age from three years to eighty-three, parishioners from various churches who made the sandwiches and squares, fashion store owners, merchants who gave door prizes, women and teenagers who served the refreshments and so many others. All there because they believed in what Bethlehem stands for in our community.
Over the years, I have served as Chair on the Board of Directors, on the Development Committee and its various event committees such as Empty Bowls, the Chapel Singers Concert, and the organization of celebratory events.
If you are considering volunteering in our community, I could not recommend a better organization for helping those in need in our community than Bethlehem Housing and Support Services. As a volunteer, your talents will be greatly appreciated. Your time could not be better spent.