Diane Fru is set to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to support the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS), but it is a mile she has walked before.
“As a young mom I was abused in a relationship,” Fru said.
Over the past few months she went from volunteering with SOWINS to becoming the event coordinator for Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, which aims to raise funds and awareness to end domestic and gender-based violence by getting Pentictonites to strap on some heels on Oct. 8 at Rotary Park.
“I didn’t know of an organization like (SOWINS),” Fru said. “I think in a small city like Penticton often it’s thought that maybe we don’t have a problem because we’re so small and these issues exist in larger communities, and that’s just not so.”
She hopes the event will help raise awareness and let people know that the issue of abused women and children does exist in this community.
“The police know we have a problem, SOWINS knows we have a problem and the women living on the street or being abused know we have a problem too,” Fru said.
Fru sent several emails out to family and friends on Sept. 4 asking for donations and was surprised at how quick and generous the response was.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed. I’ve never done fundraising before so it was quite an emotional thing to send out these emails and within three minutes I had three people. Within 10 minutes I had 10 people, by the end of the day I had 24,” Fru said.
Her goal is $5,000, 10 per cent of what SOWINS hopes to raise with the event.
So far, Fru has raised $3,630, and SOWINS has raised $11,000.
Fru also plans to match the donations made, at a cap of $4,500, at the Earls Walks for You event on Oct. 3. The Main Street restaurant will have door prices, happy hour pricing all evening and a live DJ, with funds going towards SOWINS.
For SOWINS, Fru has been a blessing.
“She’s been amazing. You love people like that who have this endless energy,” Debbie Scarborough, executive director of SOWINS, said. “We love her.”
The event is a fundraiser for the SOWINS’ second stage housing project while simultaneously raising awareness for the cause of marginalized women.
“You and I get to go home and turn a key and feel safe. There’s so many of our women and children in our community that don’t have that right, and it is a right not just a privilege,” Scarborough said.
Women and children fleeing abuse can reside in transition housing for 30 days, but as Scarborough said “there’s still nowhere to rent here, we’ve got less than one per cent vacancies.”
“Our second stage housing will allow these women and their children to stay a year to two years in their home and they don’t have to worry about housing. They can get on with their life, get back to work, back to school,” Scarborough said.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event (Oct. 8) includes competitions for costumes and dressing up at the walk, which starts at 3 p.m. from Rotary Park. There will be a pre-walk welcome program and fundraising awards following the walk. Donations or pledges can be made to a specific walker, to a team or to the event itself. Visit www.sowins.com/wamso for more information.
“It’s a serious topic yes, but it’s more about creating awareness and creating empathy,” Scarborough said.
There will be an after party at the Barking Parrot at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.