Thursday, November 16, 2017, YW Calgary hosted our 7th annual YWHISPER Fundraising Gala featuring former lead prosecutor and women’s rights champion, Marcia Clark. The gala, held at TELUS Convention Centre was attended by more than 670 people to raise funds in support of women and their families who are struggling with poverty, domestic abuse and social exclusion.
We were honoured to have the VIP reception sponsored this year by Fasken Martineau. Karen Wyke from Fasken, spoke at the VIP reception as guests sipped on bubbles while enjoying a smaller version of YW’s She Who Dares project. VIP guests heard from Shannon Young, who emceed the reception as the Gala Committee Chair.
Our VIP was well attended by VIP gold sponsor Fasken Martineau, gold sponsor Birchcliff Energy, silver sponsors Air Canada, Avenue Magazine Calgary and Vermilion Energy. Other notable guests were Ann McCaig, Margaret Mannix, Randy and Nick Pettipas, Sharon Carry and Bonnie DuPont (YW She Who Dares honourees), Wade Felesky and YW board chair Rebecca Morley, Minister Mclean, Minister Kent Hehr, Geoff Braun, Anne McGrath, Greg Clark, Chief Chaffin and Judge Sean Dunnigan.
YWHISPER was beautifully captured by the one and only Neil Zeller, of Neil Zeller Photography who graciously donated his time and talent to show off our best side.
Throughout the evening, YW volunteers were offering for sale highly sought-after raffle tickets, which were all sold out before the exciting live auction began, a first in recent history for YWHISPER. Prior to dinner, guests were reminded why they were here tonight with a short video clip featuring one of the women YW supports. Her story, and the other three shared throughout the evening left the room in silence and made a lasting impression.
Dinner was devoured and then began the live auction featuring Bill Brown of Elevate Auctions. The auction prizes were amazing and the guests quickly jumped to throw their hat in the ring to win. Once guests caught their breath after the exhilarating auction, the Honourable Stephanie McLean, Minister Status of Women Alberta, took to the stage and spoke about the importance of YW.
Minister McLean offered insight to the guests on how “YW is the gold standard in empowering women in taking control of their lives.” Again reminding the guests how important it is to support an organization like ours who are directly involved in moving women from surviving to thriving.
Finally the highly anticipated speech and conversation with Marcia Clark was introduced by honourary gala chair, Dawn Farrell. Marcia Clark left the audience feeling empowered with her passionate insights on the changing scene in Hollywood and in politics in light of #MeToo. Most notably from her speech were her comments on when women succeed:
“Women, when you get that raise, when you get that promotion, when you get that bonus – quit being ‘grateful’. You got it because you deserve it and worked hard for it.”
After her speech, Marcia was joined in conversation by Alberta Provincial Court Judge Sean Dunnigan. Sean and Marcia spoke candidly about how longer and harsher prison sentences don’t work, suggesting making prisons a place for rehabilitation, a place to get support. Marcia highlighted the link between being vulnerable and committing a crime and the importance rehabilitation plays.
Judge Dunnigan talked about what gives him hope: how the coordination of services from the court processes, police services to social service agencies (like YW) dealing with domestic abuse cases are working collaboratively and in turn, bringing down the number of repeat offenders. At the end, Marcia left the audience with two tidbits to help change issues that impact women: 1. Speak out and 2. Listen.
With one in five Calgarians being worried about not having enough money for food, Calgary Police Service responding to more than 49 domestic conflict calls per day and Alberta’s continued struggle with unemployment, YWHISPER presented an opportunity to reiterate to Calgarians how important it is to support vulnerable women and their families in our community. YWHISPER reminds us that our work in creating a better Calgary is far from over, but that we make progress each and every day so long as we speak up and speak out.
Thank you to our keynote speaker Marcia Clark and guest Judge Dunnigan, Dawn Farrell for her commitment to vulnerable women in Calgary, Dave Kelly our emcee, Minister McLean, and Shannon Young YW Gala Chair for speaking up and speaking out and being such wonderful ambassadors for YW and our community.
Finally, thank you to our donors, supporters, volunteers and staff working behind the scenes. Without you, an event like this is not possible. Your support helps ensure women and their families can thrive in a safe and equitable community.