TRURO – A hush fell across the crowd of a few hundred women. Three ladies grasped hands, each hoping to be the chosen one.
When Susan Henderson heard the words ‘Canadian Mental Health Association’ butterflies fluttered in her stomach and her mouth opened but momentarily nothing came out. With hobbly legs she raced to the front of the 100 Women Who Care Truro crowd at the Holiday Inn on Tuesday night to say thank you for more than $12,500 that the women donated to the Colchester East Hants mental health branch.
“I’m over the moon and overwhelmed … I’m speechless,” Henderson, executive director of the mental health association, told the Truro Daily News.
The 100 Women Who Care event was the first of four such gatherings in Truro. A few hundred ladies gathered to donate $100 individually or as a team to one non-profit organization. Three groups – CMHA, the Colchester Food Bank and Third Place Transition House – gave a five-minute presentation on what they do and how they’d use the funds if chosen. The crowd then took two minutes to vote and the mental health association received the majority of the ballots, which resulted in receiving all $12,500 that was donated.
During her presentation, Henderson said at least 50 and at times more than 100 individuals make use of the service a day. She said funds would help create community outreach programs for families, raise awareness and reduce stigma. Future plans are to buy the current rented building on Revere Street “for transitional housing.”
Mental health is “an illness of judgment … we wouldn’t blame someone for having cancer or diabetes,” Henderson said of stigma mental health illnesses still face.
Mary DeAdder, the executive director of the food bank, and
Sandra McCulloch, vice-chairwoman of the transition house’s board of directors, lent their support to Henderson.
“It’s wonderful. We all benefit,” said McCulloch.
“We all deal with the same people,” DeAdder agreed.
In McCulloch’s speech, she said Third Place is “a great deal more” than a women’s shelter. It also promotes healthy relationships, has a crisis line, and offers public presentations and outreach programs, to name a few. It interacted with 199 “different points of contact” in addition to people who stayed at the facility last month alone, McCulloch added.
DeAdder’s presentation indicated between 750 and 800 families are served by the facility a month and “we’re more like a resource centre; food is only part of the problem.”
“It was a dead heat for me,” said an event co-ordinator Cindie Smith about which group would receive the money.
Smith said the event “worked because it’s the right thing to do” in the community and she hopes men will begin their own event.
The second women’s event will be held Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Best Western Glengarry. The three organizations vying for that event’s funds will be Scotia Pool, Colchester County United Way and Maggie’s Place.
Stewiacke’s Judy Stoddart said these events are vital to the community.
“All the organizations are worthy and it’s pretty hard to decide … but because we are women we are supportive of people. We see the need in the community,” Stoddart said.