The Qualicum Beach Seniors and the Parksville Seniors both regularly donate money to local causes on their own, but this year they’ve decided to join forces for the first time. The two groups have planned an antique fashion show and tea to help raise funds for the Vancouver Island Compassion Dog Society.
“This is all brand new and exciting,” said Judy Southern, president of QB Seniors. “I thought it was about time we did this.”
Aileen Fabris, president of Parksville Seniors, said the idea sparked after seeing a vintage fashion show put on by Port Alberni’s Centennial Bells group. “We looked at each other and thought, ‘What a good idea,’” she said.
So, Southern said they turned to “local fashion show expert” Merlyn Patten to provide the show. Patten has collected vintage fashions for more than 30 years and regularly uses the clothes to put on shows to help charities and non-profits. She also doesn’t charge a fee for her services and all of her models are volunteers.
When it came to choosing which charity to sponsor, both Southern and Fabris said the Vancouver Island Compassion Dog Society was a clear decision.
“Our government is not doing so much for our servicemen right now,” said Fabris.
According to VICD president and founder Barb Ashmead, the society matches dogs with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in an effort to promote mental health and well-being. The program also works with people in active service and first responders who are at risk for the disorder. Ashmead said the dogs offer emotional support for their human partners as they learn to cope with things “we consider simple, but they consider hard,” such as grocery shopping, going to dinner or being in other crowded and noisy spaces.
“That program is really quite something,” said Southern. “It’s a big deal getting back into a more normal way of life.”
Ashmead said it costs approximately $10,000 for each participant as the VICD provides the animals, leashes, dog food and fuel to twice weekly training classes for the human-canine pair. “The veteran pays nothing,” she said. There are approximately 12 teams in the program right now. Ashmead said all of the money used by the VICD is raised by the society, and she was “thrilled” when she learned the seniors’ centres were holding a fundraiser.
“For us, it means more people are understanding what we’re doing, and that is important,” said Ashmead.
The fashion show and tea will be on Sunday Feb. 15. at 2 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Tea, coffee and refreshments are included in the price of your ticket. Also, you can get into the spirit of the event by wearing a hat for your chance to win a door prize.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in Parksville at Bosley’s Pet Store, Cranky Dog Music and the Parksville Seniors’ Drop-in Centre, and in Qualicum Beach at Fresh N Fabulous Flowers and the Qualicum Beach Seniors Activity Centre. You can also call the seniors’ centres at 250-248-3200 or 250-752-0420 for more info.