Support needed for those who help others

Support for women and children in crisis has a very special place in Mike Tarrant’s heart.

That’s because the manager of the Penticton Earls restaurant knows from personal experience how difficult it is for a broken family that could use some assistance at a critical time in their lives.

“Raised by a single mother we had some trying times throughout our lives,” said Tarrant, whose restaurant is once again stepping to the forefront to help the South Okanagan Women in Need Society’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. “When we first moved to Penticton, all that we had was the clothing on our back. Our house had just burned down and mom had split with my stepfather and we were living in a shack at the time.

“Certainly back then there were times where if we had access to a society like SOWINS we would have been able to use their support.”

On June 9, from 7 p.m. till closing, the Main Street business is hosting the third annual Earls Walk for You fundraising event, a precursor to the July 7 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes SOWINS fundraiser.

“Certainly for me and the staff, the women in need society is something I believe in. It’s a great cause and to be able to support them means everything and to us,” said Tarrant. “It can help mend families and get them back where they need to be and back into a healthy lifestyle that they can move forward in and grow, it’s a beautiful thing.

“My mom was able to cope because she didn’t have a choice. I think she was really focussed on me and my happiness and she focussed on rebuilding. That’s why this kind of support is so important.”

Diane Fru is a SOWINS all-round volunteer who also had nowhere to turn during a difficult time in her marriage.

“When I had struggles with my children, when I was in an abusive relationship they didn’t have anything like this,” she said. “I didn’t know where to go so I would take my two kids to a motel until it was safe to come home. I had a credit card which lots of these women don’t have. Sadly a lot of them think this is what they deserve but they do not.”

She added the help from Earls is critical, not only in terms of dollars but also local awareness of the problem.

“For a lot of people it’s like the NIMBY thing, not in my backyard, it can’t possibly happen in Penticton, but yes it does,” said Fru. “And, it’s the number of children and women who don’t get this support, where do they go? So what Earls does really helps, it’s pretty remarkable what they do.”

One of the main goals of SOWINS right now is the establishment of second stage housing.

Currently the residency in safe houses for women and children is 30 days.

“Which means that those who still need a place to stay, who want to improve their lives will have the opportunity and because often children who witness the abuse are traumatized by it and need more time,” said Fru.

Second stage housing would be for one year and second stage units in the new transition house being built would start at six months.

Tickets to the Earls event on June 9 at 7 p.m., emceed by Tarrant, are $20 and all proceeds will go to SOWINS. The ticket includes any appetizer from the menu and a beer or glass of wine.

There will be live music, a DJ, silent auction and much more.

A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased at Earls.

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