After roughly six years of fundraising, planning and awareness promotion the Magdalene House Society is just about ready to open its doors.
To celebrate this event, called The Sweet Tooth for Justice, as well as to promote their message of equality for all victims of human trafficking, Magdalene House is hosting a dessert gala on Feb. 21st in the Frontier Room at Westerner Park. The gala begins at 7:30 p.m. and there is no cost for admission.
“We are celebrating the opening of the house for people who are in recovery from being trafficked. We have a home and we are just now in the process of furnishing it. We’ll be ready to receive clients by about March 1st,” said Dave Bouchard, president of the board of directors for Magdalene House Society.
“We are currently in the process of hiring our staff who will be at the home 24/7. We will have enough space to accommodate five people who have been exploited by trafficking through a 12-month recovery program.”
Bouchard said that the people living in the Magdalene House will receive counseling from Catholic Social Services as well as job skills training through Employment Placement Support Services. Additionally, he said that the residents will have access to online schooling to upgrade or participate in courses.
“The main thing is that we are going to have a program where these people are busy all day long, doing various things that are going to contribute to their healing,” Bouchard said.
“We have three full-time staff lined up, and three part-time staff, and then we’re hoping to have at least 10 volunteers. They will work through the daytime shift and the evening shift, but for the nightshift we probably won’t have any volunteers – unless we come across someone who really wants to do that.”
The development of the Magdalene House has been in planning since 2009. The goal of the Society has been to secure funding for one year’s worth of operating expenses before opening. They have hosted various fundraisers and are exploring available funding from the government.
“We do have an annual campaign that is ongoing to plan for next year. We’ve mailed out some cards to people who have supported us in the past, and people have been very generous in supporting us again and that’s been great,” Bouchard said.
“We don’t have any government funding at this point but we hope to when we can show that our program is viable and that people are able to use this to help them recover and get back on their feet.”
The Sweet Tooth for Justice gala falls a day shy of the annual day of Awareness for Human Trafficking. It will feature a variety of crafted desserts as well as a presentation by the Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation in Edmonton, Kate Quinn.
Quinn is an active human rights advocate in Edmonton and has previously worked on the National Task Force for Human Trafficking in Canada. She will discuss this initiative and her experiences working against human trafficking.
“The night will start off with people enjoying some vary tasty desserts, and then we will have Kate Quinn do her presentation. After her presentation we will have a live auction, and the auction has theme-oriented desserts. For instance, people will make cupcakes into the shape of Oscar the Grouch, or they might make a theme cake that has to do with the movie Frozen. There are different possibilities that will be auctioned off,” Bouchard said.
“After the auction, people will enjoy some more desserts. Then there will be a silent auction where people can view items donated by the community during the evening until it closes after the live auction.”
Following the live and silent auctions, there will be the official ribbon cutting for the Magdalene House to end the evening.