Magdalene House Society has altered their goals slightly to make them a little bit more achievable by opting to lease a property instead of buying.
This change in plans has altered the fundraising goal to one year’s operation expenses – nearly $200,000. Marian Cloutier, a member of the board of directors, sat down to explain some of the new plans and why the changes occurred.
“Fundraising for Magdalene House over the last three years has been slow and sure. However, everyone knows the real estate in Alberta, especially Red Deer, is very, very expensive,” Cloutier explained.
“We came to a decision that instead of buying or building a house, we are first going to lease a property. We are probably about 75 per cent of the way there.”
Cloutier said that hopefully, this summer’s fundraising events will be enough to bring them to their goal.
Right now, Magdalene House does have an exciting new milestone for their organization – the physical presence of a store.
“Being able to open our store here with fair-trade products, and to just have a meeting place and a physical presence, a lot more people have learned about Magdalene House and our mission,” said Cloutier.
“We’ve also benefited from that because a lot of people walk past our hall, see our signage and give us donations. It’s been really, really big to have this physical presence.”
Cloutier reinforced the breadth of their operation. Magdalene House would be the first and only house in Alberta that would provide shelter specifically for victims of human trafficking. Right now, women are limited to a 21-day stay in emergency shelters.
“We will be the first purpose-driven, care facility for people who’ve been exploited through human trafficking, not domestic violence or some other type of exploitation,” said Cloutier.
“Human trafficking isn’t just kidnapping or selling people. There’s a whole other part that is very likely happening in Alberta, as well as other parts across Canada. It’s the exploitation of people for their labour.”
Cloutier explained that it is not always international immigrants who are seeing this problem, but some Canadians as well.
“When they get here, their passport and identification is taken from them and they are put into something other than what they thought they were coming here to do.”
The fundraising events that will be happening this summer include a Freedom Walk, a Freedom Ride and a golf tournament.
The Freedom Walk is coming up quickly, on the 14th of June. It is a 10km walk that will take participants through the downtown core and Bower Ponds among other areas of the City. Beginning at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 9 a.m., walkers can enjoy a light breakfast where an RCMP officer will join them to discuss the issue of human trafficking. Registration can be done online, at $25 per person.
The Freedom Ride will be the final weekend in July. It is a 200km ride, spanning two days that takes riders from Sylvan Lake to just past Caroline, with an overnight stop at Sanctum Retreat. The fee is $100, which covers all food and accommodations. Riders are warned to pre-train for the physically exerting event and are asked to raise $500 minimum for participation.
The final event is a golf tournament in August. Team registration for four members is $450 and singles can register for $125.
“The biggest thing we want people to know about us is that we are getting close to being able to establish Magdalene house,” said Cloutier.
This past weekend, the members of the board took part in a strategic planning session to finalize the details of their budget and goals. Anyone looking for more information on operations, missions or how to help, can contact Magdalene House online or by telephone at 587-273-4324.