Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation’s (JMMF) vision is to bring safety and hope to vulnerable persons in abusive relationships. The Foundation is named after Jessica, who lost her life at the hands of her partner. Since 2012 the Foundation has provided outreach, education, and has recently opened an inclusive emergency shelter. Currently, JMMF is 100 per cent community supported. Traditionally an annual gala, charity run, and a country cabaret were the main fundraisers, but with COVID-19 limiting gatherings, JMMF is getting creative.
Replacing the Break Free Gala and Country Cabaret is a virtual event called Christmas in November – and it’s more than a fundraiser. JMMF’s Christmas in November involves local businesses who are donating auction items, as well as local makers that are crafting and upcycling incredibly unique items. As a virtual event, the entire community can get involved at their leisure over the span of a couple weeks, allowing them to shop online for Christmas gifts early or to find something special for themselves. Proceeds greatly help those fleeing domestic violence and taking shelter in Jessie’s House (one of the few shelters in Canada that is 100 per cent inclusive for women, children, seniors, men, and the LGBTQ2+ community).
“We have some fun things, including sports memorabilia,” says Teena Hughson, Community Engagement Coordinator, “and some stunning hand made quilts. We have a lot of themed gift baskets being made. Typically, we would also have a lot more experienced-based donations like hockey tickets and comedy packages. COVID-19 has put a bit of a wrench in that, but it’s creating an opportunity for everyone to get creative! Our community is rich with experiences and great dining; with gift certificates for these we can get items into the hands of supporters and people through the doors or on the website of local businesses.”
One very unique set of items that will be up for bidding has a great backstory. After a pristine vintage fox fur coat showed up at JMMF as a donation-in-kind, the team was not sure what to do. The coat was lovely and while not everyone supports fur, it is a natural product and remains a livelihood for many. An opportunity arrived when a local artisan offered to carefully and respectfully upcycle the coat into several different items for the auction, allowing more people to enjoy the product, not letting any of it go to waste. These one-of-a-kind items are sure to be among the most sought-after prizes.
The auction takes place on a virtual platform from November 15-24. During that time participants can keep an eye on their items and get digital notifications when they have been outbid.
“People are already shopping online, so this provides a great way to support families at Jessie’s House while getting your Christmas shopping done in a safe and socially distanced way – while having fun!” smiles Hughson. “The auction supports JMMF, local businesses, and keep dollars in our community.”
The need is crucial. The demand for support and emergency shelter continues to grow. You can be a part of the solution by donating to and/or participating in Christmas in November. Stay tuned to the JMMF website as details unfold, and contact JMMF if you wish to contribute a donation.
JMMF thanks its title sponsor, Pembina Pipeline Corp., along with current and future donors and supporters. Learn more about the foundation at www.jessicamartelmemorialfoundation.com, and help make a difference by supporting Christmas in November.