Gala geared to support Chilliwack’s Meadow Rose Society

Society helps families with children three and under with the basic necessities of life

Sheila Friesen (standing) and Kathareen Kessler are co-executive directors of Meadow Rose Society. They are gearing up for thier first high-end fundraiser

Sheila Friesen (standing) and Kathareen Kessler are co-executive directors of Meadow Rose Society. They are gearing up for thier first high-end fundraiser

The ladies who help provide for Chilliwack’s most vulnerable babies are planning a night off, and they want you to join them.

Meadow Rose Society is dedicated to feeding and diapering children three and younger. In their short three years of service to the community, the non-profit’s executive directors Sheila Friesen and Kathereen Kessler

have handed out 35,000 diapers and helped feed countless infants when their parents weren’t able.

But on Oct. 1, they have a unique chance to step away from the rigors of that role and don some fun and fancy attire for their first ever Roaring ’20s Gala. This will be the first major fundraiser for the fledgling non-profit, and if it’s successful, they plan on making it an annual event.

In the past, they’ve held pub nights and relied on donations and grants. But earlier this year, they were approached by a small group of UFV students who had a big idea for the small organization. Allie Acker, Christina Schouten, Brittany Watters, and Shannon Henshall were students of UFV’s Hospitality and Event Planning certificate program, which has students create new events for existing organizations.

When the students showed Friesen and Kessler their proposal for a 1920s inspired gala, it was easy to say yes.

“We loved it,” said Friesen says. “We were going to do another pub night but we decided on doing this instead.”

It’s taken a lot of planning, but most of that leg work was taken care of in the UFV students’ proposal. The gala will take place in the Chilliwack Museum, almost across the street from Meadow Rose’s office on Spadina Ave., and will include music, dancing, entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and wine. A live auction is planned, and an iPad is being given away as a door prize, thanks to a donation by Harry Mertin.

Suburban Swing will even be there to entertain the crowds with dancing demonstrations.

And the UFV students, who have now finished their program, will be on hand as volunteers for the evening.

They are hoping to sell out the event, and at $50 a ticket are priced in line with similar fundraisers. But more than anything, they are hoping the event will help to bring more awareness to Meadow Rose Society and their mandate.

They specifically help parents with with infants, babies, and toddlers (aged three and under). They will help anyone, whether it’s a one-time need or an ongoing one.

“We don’t just help moms on welfare,” Kessler explains. Anyone can go through a short period of needing a lending hand.

She was someone who needed help once, as a new mom living out in Rosedale more than two decades ago. In a town that small at the time, with no car and a husband on the road, she woke up one morning to realize she had misjudged how much formula she had in the cupboard.

She reached out to a friend for help, but that moment of despair and panic stuck with her through the years. While she was working at another local non-profit, she noticed that many parents were in need of the very specific items babies and toddlers need — and that there wasn’t much of it to go around.

“No child should be denied a basic need,” Kessler says. Their clients range from someone being temporarily out of work, to grandparents on a fixed income, to single parents or families on disability.

Walking into Meadow Rose Society, parents will find a play area, a display of donations they are free to look through, and even a small selection of nearly-new clothes. The pantry includes diapers, baby wipes, toiletries, food and formula, although the cupboards are desperately bare at the moment.

They also work closely with StreetHope New and Used, and offer parents vouchers for children’s clothing from the second hand shop up to four times a year. Parents can come in up to twice a month, eligible for 15 diapers.

They can even sign up to be considered for larger items like cribs, strollers and car seats, as they become available through donations.

They are also accepting silent auction items for the Roaring ’20s Gala. There are only 80 tickets available for the Oct. 1 event, and ticket sales end on Sept. 17.

Tickets are available at http://meadowrosegala.eventbrite.ca/.

For more information, drop by the Meadow Rose Society at 2-45789 Spadina, Tuesdays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.