Men (and some women) of Red Deer are getting ready to strut their stuff with Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
The event is organized by the Women’s Outreach Centre as a fun way to shed light on the serious issues of domestic violence, abuse and homelessness. Walkers, who are mostly men, put on some pumps to show their support for women in their communities.
“The thing I tell a lot of people is that it’s not easy. I’ve never once said it’s a breeze. It’s a mile of pain versus sometimes a lifetime of pain, like some of our clients go through,” said Darcy Ouellet, fund development officer at the Outreach Centre.
Ouellet began the organization of the event when he was brought into his new position. He said it was one of the first things he wanted to do because it was a unique fundraiser that “really fits” with the Outreach Centre.
“This will be my third time walking. I learn a little bit more every time, like where to put the band-aids on before I put on my shoes,” laughs Ouellet.
“I put in a lot of practice, and I stress to all the guys that are walking – you want to break in the shoes before you’re going to walk a mile in them.”
Ouellet was inspired by the event in other cities, and has participated in both previous years of the walk.
Each walker collects pledges as they take part in the race, both before and after the actual event. All funds collected go towards the 16 various programs the Women’s Outreach Centre offers which include domestic violence support, interim housing, men and women’s groups to deal with stress of abuse and legal information access.
“We encourage everybody when they’re here to come into the building. Have a walk around. We’ll have staff around who can give a tour and tell you everything that we actually do.”
Ouellet said it’s important for people to become more aware of the programs the Women’s Outreach Centre offers. He expresses the need for the community to take interest in programs, partnerships and services that are an integral part of the Centre.
“When people think about ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’, we want them to think about us. It’s something specific to the Women’s Outreach. We want the two ideas intertwined with each other.”
Ouellet continues, “When we think about abuse and violence, it’s not an open subject. But if we can take a humorous event and shed light on the violence, it’s good.”
Women’s Outreach purchases shoes for the event to provide for the registrants. When the walk was first introduced, between 60-70 walkers took part. This year, the amount of walkers will surpass 100 people.
This year, new to the event are several sponsors who have joined forces to provide a shirt for each participant.
Donations can also be made in a brand new way this year, via text messaging the word ‘outreach’ to 45678. This contributes a $10 donation that is added to a person’s mobile provider bill.
Also available will be a photo booth for participants to get a photo of themselves or their teams. The Red Deer Food Bank will provide a free BBQ meal for those who walk the mile. All other proceeds from the BBQ will go to the Food Bank.
“The event is more about who we are and what we’re actually doing. In our community, actually in all of Central Alberta, there’s not a lot of knowledge that goes out about our actual agency,” said Ouellet about the central message for the event.
The event will commence at 11 a.m. on May 22nd in the parking lot outside of the Outreach Centre, located at 4101-54 Ave. Registration is open up to and including the day, and can be done online at the Women’s Outreach web site.
Donations for the cause will be accepted until May 31st.